A bot-operated call center doesn’t have to be bad at all

Automating call center processes with the use of smart solutions is a process that can only be covered by a veil of silence, at least from the customer’s perspective. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned and customers lost faith in any form of automated service. What are bot-run call centers associated with? First, with Alicja Kołodziej extracting data under the pretense of offering a photovoltaic installation, as well as other similar scams, including free pulse oximeters to be collected from the indicated location. What went wrong? Why did the technology, which was supposed to benefit both customers and businesses using call center services, fail across the board, making it blatantly bogus? Why has the potential of a service been so wasted that, at least in my opinion, could really help? In this material I will try to find the answer.

At the very beginning, however, I owe you an apology. Why is that? Mainly because I worked for a while in one of the biggest contact centers in Poland. I participated in the development of various technologies that were to revolutionize the contact between the company and its customer. At that time, it seemed to me that the future of call centers operated largely by bots would arrive any day and everyone would be happy. Businesses, because thanks to communication analysis and machine learning, they will better understand the needs of their customers, and will also free up human resources previously involved in direct customer service, but also using their services, because they will easily and quickly receive exactly the information they called for. Unfortunately, the theory could not be put into practice. Perhaps the deeper and more widespread use of new technologies was burdened with too high a risk both in terms of security and customer satisfaction, which is why the implementation of the most interesting solutions was delayed for a long time. Unfortunately, too long. It is mainly for this reason that the customer approach to automation is now as it is.

How is it?

Unfortunately, no one needs to be explained how it is. The popularity of the phone spam identification app speaks for itself. Alicja Kołodziej and her friends are just the tip of the iceberg, which should collapse as soon as possible. Instead of helping people, new technologies only irritate in this case. After all, someone important can call from a number you don’t know. This could be, for example, a phone call from a clinic where our results have just arrived, a phone call from a school or nursery our child attends, etc. In the meantime, we don’t automatically answer numbers we don’t know. It’s much more likely that we’ll hear in the handset an invitation to pick up a free pulse oximeter somewhere on the other side of Poland than a really important message.

Do scammers and scammers only use automatic manipulation? Not at all. This solution is used, among others, by banks and other financial institutions. They usually do this to reach the customer through a proven communication channel, i.e. a telephone conversation, without the need to involve employees who may be performing other more important tasks at the time. It is not certain that a given customer will show interest in taking advantage of the bank’s offer at this time? It’s always cheaper send in reconnaissance a bot that will introduce the purpose of the contact and then help arrange an interview with one of the employees. One of the telephone campaigns in these institutions is also debt collection. Some companies, after a few days of delay in repayment, establish the first automatic connections with the customer, so that the bot can remind you that there was a more or less significant repayment arrears.

Unfortunately, business contacts, and even more debt collection contacts, are not the most pleasant. It is for this reason that we are so discouraged by automatic customer service that as soon as we hear a computer generated voice on the handset, we want to hang up immediately. As a last resort, if it’s Artificial Intelligence picked up connection, the first thing we do is go human. And it could have been completely different…

How should it be?

Let’s dive into a world where we’ve successfully implemented some very ambitious projects in the area of ​​bot-assisted customer service. As I mentioned earlier, such solutions are already developed and waiting to be implemented by the first volunteers. What would such a phone call look like? For example, yes. Imagine that we are a customer of an insurance company and that in a few days we have to undergo hospital treatment. We know that we are entitled to a benefit in this respect for the amount specified in the insurance conditions. How much exactly? This is our question that we want to answer from a telephone consultant. We call the helpline, where we are greeted by a pleasant, albeit slightly artificial, voice of Artificial Intelligence. The bot that serves us asks for your name, and we do not hesitate to grant this request. Naturally, the system has long identified us by the telephone number from which we call. So why the question about first and last name? This innocent question is a cleverly disguised biometric security feature that, based on analysis of voice samples, lets the computer know it’s talking to the right person and can provide any requested information.

As the bot uses all the latest advances in natural language understanding, we ask for it in exactly the same way as when talking to a human. If the machine is absolutely sure of what we want to say, without hesitation and above all, it will read the value we ask for without any error. Then it will offer you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the process of applying for a benefit payment, while reminding you that it can be done in exactly the same way – by going to an automated call center.

This is a completely different form of using bot and AI, which would certainly be much better received than what some companies are choosing now. Yes, this way we are not talking to the other person, which may initially cause discomfort, however as the satisfaction of using the services supported by bots increases, we will get used to the new standard of communication. The rest of the way it would probably work so you could move on to Human consultant and settle the matter in the usual way.

What are the benefits of the bot service? First, infallibility. We are only human, therefore, when serving customers, it usually happens that we make a mistake and provide the customer with other wrong information. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to problems on the customer’s side, and on the company’s and employee’s side, also of financial responsibility. The bot would know perfectly well what information to read and in what form to transmit it, so there would be no question of understatement.

The second advantage of automatic solutions is the reduction of potential abuse. If automatic solutions, based on knowledge of a specific customer’s needs, selected specific products, there would be less abuse than in the case of human service. Unfortunately, instances of unreliable service still occur, although due to legal mechanisms protecting consumers, they are much less frequent than a few or a dozen years ago.

To summarize, A bot-run call center isn’t so bad. It could turn out to be a very useful, useful solution, if only it were organized in such a way as to best meet the real needs of customers. We really don’t need offer ads anymore. We need proven and valuable information at a time when we decide for ourselves.

We don’t want Anna Kołodziej, we want useful tools

Given my personal experience with implementing new technologies in customer service processes, I am always open to them. I believe that they can really help, but there is a condition for that, but it is a very important condition: they must actually prove to be useful. As customers, we have grown accustomed to bot-operated call centers because we associate them with fraud, intrusive marketing, and nuisance itself. We would like smart solutions to help us serve ourselves according to the highest quality standards, especially in terms of adequacy and provision of correct information.

I hope the day will come when talking on the phone with the phone booth will be associated with something useful and effective, and not everything bad about modern marketing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that existing technologies are refined and implemented in a way that we, our customers, are truly enjoyable to use. Let it be soon.

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