We Should Embrace AI as a Useful Toolset and Not Fear It
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a fad that will soon go away. It’s a fundamental shift in how all businesses—and even every person—will function in the future. And though you may not yet realize it, that future is here. Even if you haven’t openly invited artificial intelligence into your call center operation, it’s already arrived, albeit via circuitous points of entry.
Many people already use AI and don’t even know it. Artificial intelligence helps us draft e-mail messages and compose text messages. It facilitates online searches. And it targets advertising—both the ads we receive and the ones we send. And AI works to keep us secure online. In doing these things—and many more—AI saves us time and helps us work with more effectiveness.
We’ll talk about artificial intelligence in general terms because the specifics will be out of date within days. That’s how fast artificial intelligence technology is advancing.
Consider these areas where artificial intelligence can help us in our call centers to do our jobs more effectively and efficiently.
AI Management Tools
Artificial intelligence can help us manage our call center operation and our call center staff with greater ease. One key area, for example, is in quality assurance (QA). AI can perform a QA analysis on our agents to measure the overall effectiveness of their work. This not only removes the tedium of doing so manually, but it also makes sure it is actually done and not put off. And it also does so for every call, which is something that is not feasible from a human standpoint.
This is just one example of an AI management tool that will fundamentally change how we oversee our call center staff.
While we typically think of how artificial intelligence can facilitate interactions with clients and callers, we shouldn’t overlook its potential to assist in internal communication and collaboration between departments. Consider a customer service event and the ripple effects it’s resolution causes. AI could serve to automatically notify all stakeholders and even support their work that relates to it. As appropriate AI could trigger a billing adjustment, escalate a QA report, reprogram an account, update a service record, and so on.
Though artificial intelligence could—and one day may—replace much of the human involvement in call center work, we’re best to view it now as supporting our agents so they can do their jobs better and faster. The above mentioned—and presently available—AI assisted email and text messaging tools are an obvious start. Though these still require agent involvement or agent approval, imagine being able to compose these messages in less time and with greater accuracy.
Customer Facing Communications
When many people think of AI in the call center, they envision frustrating bots that hamper effective communication and thwart timely resolution. Though reports of AI run amok confirm just that, it doesn’t need to be—and shouldn’t be—the case.
Chat bots are an obvious example. Though they don’t presently function well as a holistic solution and can make a mess of unusual situations, they work great as a front-end resource to solve basic problems, gather key information, and appropriately route customer requests to agents.
Now consider the same concept occurring with telephone calls. Then imagine text to speech technology producing canned responses in each operator’s voice and indistinguishable from their own speech when they need to take over a call.
We need not fear the forward march of artificial intelligence. There is much we can do to make our call centers function faster and more accurately than ever before. We’ll benefit and so will those we interact with, both inside our organization and without.
Artificial intelligence can help us, if only we will let it.