I looked through the window, the train already left Berlin. But I was not paying too much attention to the landscape, as I had too many thoughts running in my mind. I was coming back from CCW Trades in Berlin — the leading event for Customer Care Industry in Europe. This year’s edition gathered over 200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors — a lot of solutions, ideas, and people on board.

When I was walking around the exhibition halls I could not get through without the slogan “automated”. In my opinion, it was a leading buzzword this year. It’s also connected with a hype we can read now in media. Just to mention a couple of headlines that went through my reading list lately:

“Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says” — The Guardian

“The Economist Predicts Robots Will Replace Contact Centers” — Forbes

“Artificial Intelligence & Robotics to Take 10 Million Jobs Within 5 Years” — McKinsey

“Robots Will Replace Millions of Workers by 2020” — Alvexo

As in some industries the word “replace” or “takeover” might be true, I think in Customer Care Industry we should rather see it as “enhance”. Let’s go through some perspectives then.

Robots — cost reduction and satisfaction along?

As chatbots, speech recognition, AI and Process Automation can give some perspective to cut human costs, it cannot as well. Automate simple processes and transaction requests in voice or text messaging channels, so they will be more accessible, as your potential capacity increases.

The bot will not be tired and will have all the time needed. It will give more customers access to the service 24/7 without extra queues. They will be more encouraged to interact. Extra work on board along with better customer experience for such requests.

Enhance reach and make your company more accessible with faster responses and higher first contact resolutions. But this as well might only fill the existing gap for less complex requests from the customers.

Let your people focus on issues that need a human touch instead of dealing with tons of repetitive “the same story again” that burns them out. They will thank you.

Robots — fail-proof?

For sure. In well designed environments with good analytical back-end and proper security onboard. Specialization will be the key for expert and self-learning solutions.

Robots — first contact resolution?

Quick Q&As with verification onboard (i.e. biometrics for voice) for less complex requests and transactions. Online channel enhanced with automated assistance and guided co-browsing. Integrations will allow triggering any specific transaction or process in the backend. Send me a copy of the invoice, reschedule parcel delivery, change booking, order pizza, change my investment allocation ratios, make a payment through Messenger or Slack?

Once and done.


Robots — sales assistants?

Track the behaviour of the customer or prospect. Interact accordingly. Catch in the right moment. Quick need analysis, tailored quotations, and selection. For well parameterized products and services.

Prepare proposition, complete the basket, and support the payment process through customer-preferred medium. In the background trigger order processing. After confirmation sends packaging and posting request to an automated warehouse. Where physical robot will complete the order and notify the delivery operator… that will pick it up with an autonomous vehicle and deliver by a drone…

End to end sales process. Just in time. The only human directly involved here — The Customer.


Robots — human touch

The robot will not build a relationship with understanding and empathy. But I think he can enhance it more when it comes to human-to-human interactions.

Let’s pick up a voice call. We have biometrics, speech recognition, and process automation onboard. The customer starts the conversation, after a while he is verified (voice biometrics) and agent has the 360 view on the screen.

They talk.

The issue is identified almost automatically (speech recognition reacts to patterns and phrases. It gives the agent a suggestion of an issue — he confirms with a click).

The CRM opens a necessary form to be filled. Data entry. But not by the agent. The agent focuses on customer’s issue. Asks questions. When the question is connected with data that might be put into CRM, speech recognition does transcription to text and automatically fills the form.

Agent sums up the call and confirms gathered data. The backend process starts with automated rules. The customer will receive in a couple of seconds an email with requested documents.

But the talk continues almost uninterrupted by any manual agent’s activities. They focus on the next question or transaction…

Such solutions might as well give agent on-screen hints, prepare tailored offering based on what the customer says, not on what the agent inputs. It has a great potential in sales. Almost no clicking, typing, or interruptions like “please wait a moment, I have to input the data”. Just seamless flow of conversation.

The agent can truly focus on the customer. And they can talk. Just the way the want or need.


PS. There are cases where the customer will prefer to deal with a bot, as the issues might be of personal or intimate nature. In such situations, automation could give customer more comfort. It’s all the matter of preferences.

Robots — the future

Robots and automated processes are the future. In many cases, we shall lose the human touch, but the customers will get used to it and in some areas will probably prefer it.

Human support or sales team will become your premium resource. If it’s not yet a one (but should).

“Next station: Central Station” — the voice announced. Eh… I missed all the landscapes… or did I?

First published on magazine.customer-heroes.com

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