Customer Experience in a Robotic World – How to Hire Humans that Beat the Bots.

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There’s only one kind of dance, the robot
And the robo-boogey
Oh and the ro, two kind of dances
But there are no more humans
Finally robotic beings rule the world

Flight Of The Conchords – Robots Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

The robots are here. Well, technically, they have been here a while, but they are quickly becoming the norm in online customer service. Facebook allows bots to process payments within the Messenger app. They trust the bots. Taco Bell have a ‘Tacobot’ giving customers information about the menu and taking orders. If the Americans are putting their tacos into the hands of bots, then you know the bots are here – they have successfully infiltrated society. What does this mean for a customer service manager? It means bots can effectively do a lot of what your agents are doing right now. And yet, we believe there will always be a place for humans when it comes to service interactions. So you need to start thinking about the kind of agent you want in the future to complement the bots, when they come, so you have a seamless call centre with bots and humans working in perfect harmony. It starts with recruitment – asking the right questions to help you hire staff who can evolve the next level in customer service.

Artificial intelligence or AI is bringing about an evolution in customer service, where more and more tasks are being automated. Chatbots are the most common form. These are simple click-to-chat popups that can answer simple, repetitive queries, and save both agents and customers a lot of time and hassle repeating themselves over and over. This is good. It’s good for your customers and happy customers are likely to become repeat customers.

And while it will free up your agents from having to answer the regular FAQ, it means that the queries they will be left to resolve will be more complex, with less of a script to follow. This can be a great thing for motivation. Suddenly the work becomes a lot less repetitive, more challenging and if you recruit effectively, your agents will be surrounded by top quality teammates who have an energy about them that is very motivating. But it will also require people who are more self-directed, responsive and agile in their thinking.

So how do you find these new-age customer service guns? Try incorporating these call centre interview questions into your recruitment process.

1. Talk to me about what brought you here today
Keep it open and give the person you’re interviewing time and space to think about the question and answer in their own time. If you can help it, try not to prompt. Get comfortable with the silence. If you can hear them speak about themselves, what appeals to them about the job and basically just see how they fill a silence, you’ll get a good idea about how they are with having natural, flowing conversations with strangers.

2. Can you talk me through something complex, that you have a good understanding of?
This could be something personal, work-related or anything really. What you’re wanting to see is how they can make you understand something that is quite complicated. You need agents who can do more than answer simple questions, because one day soon they will probably not be needed to answer the simple stuff. You want to hire people who can grasp complicated concepts, and explain them in a way that is easy to comprehend. Plus, if you give them the choice to talk about what they know and like, then you’ll also get a good idea of their passion and charisma.

3. Pitch [name of your company] to me as if I were buying your product/service.
This will give you a chance to see how prepared they are, what research they have done, and how comfortable they are coming up with a pitch without too much preparation time. It doesn’t matter so much if they don’t get the details right, they will learn all through training, and on the job. You want to see how they respond under pressure, their ability to focus on benefits rather than features, and the process they go through to come up with their answer.

That’s it, just three simple questions. You want the interview to be a natural conversation that goes where it goes, just like you want the conversations you want your agents to be having with your customers. Don’t read off a script, and resist the temptation to pepper them with so many questions that there’s no time for them to really elaborate and find their flow. Remember, you’re trying to assess the human qualities they have that will deliver a level of customer experience that no robot ever could.

Flickr cc:Kate McCully

Joel Hill
Joel Hill, has been the Sales Manager at Noojee Telephony Systems for 6 years. Noojee is a high-performance call centre software provider, aimed at small to mid-sized businesses and tailored to meet each company's individual needs. Joel is passionate about providing the right system to the right customer to make their life easier. He also loves talking to people and finding out what makes them tick.

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