The call center’s time is running out. At least, that’s been the warning from industry experts over the past few years. With the advancement of automated intelligence, it seems to be a plausible theory. AI-based solutions, on paper, have many benefits.
When we look a little closer, however, it’s not a cut and dried issue. Garter research shows that 44% of clients select phone support as their top service platform. Only 9% solved their problems completely via self-help channels.
In this article, we’ll examine the evidence more closely. We’ll look at how machines stack up against human consultants. Finally, we’ll consider which model will be adopted going forward.
The Value of Human Consultants
According to call center service provider, SupportYourApp, we’re a long way from doing away with human interaction in call centers. As advanced as our AI-based technology is, it still cannot replicate the human experience.
People feel emotions that only other people understand. Dealing with a client requires a blend of tact, empathetic support, and good problem-solving skills. Agents can put themselves in their client’s shoes and adjust their response accordingly.
A well-trained agent with the requisite skills can de-escalate conflict and start to rebuild the relationship. In such instances, listening to a metallic voice providing instructions won’t calm the situation.
Learn by Experience
Learning how to deal with clients and putting that knowledge into practice are two different things. Customers don’t always behave the way we expect them to. A human consultant learns this through experience. A chatbot, however, wouldn’t be able to pick up the subtle clues the client gives out.
They wouldn’t pick up hesitation, or changes in inflection that a human would hear.
Focused on the Experience
Customer service agents learn while working. They become experienced communicators and are adept at adjusting to different situations. They automatically change their approach as they see fit.
Chatbots can also learn, but it’s not quite the same. They’ll approach each situation with the same “attitude.” While this may work with relatively content clients, it could prove disastrous with angry customers.
With the technology at hand today, it’s simple to bring in remote teams to deal with clients with different cultural backgrounds. A company in America could, for example, hire a remote team in Iran. The local team would understand the cultural norms and be able to speak the language.
By contrast, a chatbot has no proper understanding of what those norms are. They’re not able to deliver the nuanced performance the situation may require.
A consultant can manage their time. They understand that some queries require priority handling and act accordingly. A chatbot learns to deal with everything in a specific order. It cannot deviate from that path. This might become frustrating for the client.
Understanding Inflections and Tonality
Clients may be hesitant, angry, humorous, or even sarcastic. A consultant will be able to tell the difference between these emotions and act accordingly. Chatbots are becoming better at understanding natural language, but cannot understand the different tones.
The Case for Automation
Faster Response Times
Automation’s main benefit is that it provides instant answers for the client. Chatbots, for example, work around the clock. Clients don’t need to wait until office hours, or until someone gets back to their desk.
Chatbots respond in real-time, almost instantaneously.
In fairness, human consultants may be able to speak several languages as well. With chatbots, however, language translation is effortless. The software recognizes the language the client is using and responds in it.
Clients may usually also select which language they’d like to use when the interaction begins.
Where AI shines is with the volume of simultaneous conversations it can handle. Humans may be able to deal with three or four clients at a time. The data-handling capability of AI makes this seem like child’s play.
Chatbots can carry on several interactions without any negative impact on quality.
The primary reason that companies consider using chatbots is cost-savings. It’s less expensive to run software than to employ a consultant. The bot doesn’t require benefits, time off, or any commissions.
Over the long term, a chatbot can save the company a significant amount of money by dealing with tedious queries.
AI Never Stops Learning
Bots are trained to learn from their experiences. Every time they deal with a client, it helps them to create new connections within the software. It’s similar, in a way, to how a human’s brain works. Continued experience makes it possible to learn from mistakes and adjust the approach.
Call Center or Chatbots: The Final Frontier?
Both human call centers and chatbots provide unique benefits. While they’re often lumped into the same category, both provide very different experiences. To say, therefore, that one could completely replace the other doesn’t make sense.
Over the past year, in particular, we’ve seen call centers adopting more chatbot technology. What’s interesting, however, is that they’re using it to bolster service. Instead of replacing the consultants, the bots are making it easier for them to be more efficient.
Chatbots may, for example, field simple queries and direct the rest to the appropriate agent. They make it possible for companies to reduce dropped calls and improve first response times. In the future, we’ll see bots and consultants working together even more.
The Hybrid Call Center
Bots won’t kill call centers, but they will change how they operate. Human consultants will always form an integral part of the service experience. Having chatbots handle tedious queries, however, improves customer and consultant satisfaction.
The bots also give agents the time for more meaningful work. Instead of trying to get through every call as fast as possible, the agent can focus on the client relationship. They’re in a better position to establish client success, upsell, and cross-sell.
The traditional call center became obsolete a long time ago. Today’s call centers run leaner, more efficient operations. They’re centered on providing the client with the best possible experience, rather than simply answering queries.
Going forward, leveraging AI-based tools will enable call centers to evolve into a more effective unit overall.