They’re already robots


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All the rage these days in Contact Center online webinars and consortia is the topic of automation and “AI”… “Bots”, “ChatGPT” (I still don’t understand what that does, but apparently, as far as you know, I’m using it to write this article right now.)

The ominous overtone to most of these conversations is that Robots are coming for your Contact Center!

Now, things like automation and self-help have been with us for a while, and it’s advanced civilization—if you don’t mind my getting a little melodramatic about it all.  After all, when’s the last time you had to call or email somebody to reset your password for a website?  Certain things lend themselves to self-assistance.  I’ve bought and sold stocks and index fund shares over an app on my phone while on the elliptical machine at my gym.

When it comes to things like Contact Centers and Customer Support and Customer Care organizations, some people are seeing this trend as “writing on the wall.”

There’s surely another way to see this, and I’ve heard (and shared, from my own perspective for that matter) an alternative view:  That moving certain, transactional, low-risk, low-tech activities like moving money between accounts and even making purchases to an automated, person-less channel will in fact, professionalize the world of the Contact Center.  This philosophy suggests that, since all the easy-to-accomplish, might-as-well-let-people-do-it-for-themselves tasks can be moved on to self-help, the only things that are left for the Contact Center are the truly hard to fathom and address issues.  That means that those who’ll man the phonebanks and email org boxes will actually have to be professional and well-versed in more technical matters.  While probably ultimately better for Customers, that’s cold comfort to the college student looking for a minimum wage gig to fill up the dating coffers.  Professionalizing the Contact Center, after all, will mean leaving the non-professionals behind.

Which brings me back to the original quandary:  Is technology and automation going to kill the Contact Center?  Are the robots going to take over altogether?

Technology systems, robots, self-guided machine systems…they can only do what you’ve programmed them to do.  It was an (even by then) old joke when I was taking a computer science back in grad school that, ‘this damned program isn’t working correctly because it’s doing what I told it to do.’  Alan Turing will tell you that an automated system is only adding efficiency, not necessarily efficacy.  Garbage in—garbage out.  But the irony is that, you don’t even need robots to prove that point.

After all, let’s be honest… If the only thing you allow your people to do as they represent your organization in your Customer Care department is strictly to follow your procedures and rules, how are they different from robots anyway?  If you’re empowering your employees to do nothing further than simply repeat your policy to your Customers ad nauseum, never breaking from protocol, spewing the same copy/paste explanations (rather than solutions), acting more as an impediment to getting things right than as working on behalf of your Customers’ needs, I’ve got to wonder…

Couldn’t you just program a computer to do that for you?

If all your Customer Care, Customer Support/Service, Contact Center team members are allowed to do is recite your policies and not allow closure to your Customers’ needs…then they’re robots already.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB
I’m a Customer Experience executive, certified Process Improvement professional, Agile Scrum Master, dynamic educator, change management strategist, and in-demand business and leadership coach. I've worked from the inside and from the outside; in organizations large and small; public sector and private; from oil and gas to technology to non-profit (with lots in between too). I've seen a lot, but I haven't seen it all.


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