Call Center Agents of The Future
Looking at the development of technology and the subsequent changes in interpersonal communication, it can be concluded that various types of systems will replace people in the provision of certain information over time. Already today, many hotlines are operated not by people but by machines. Is the same fate for all call centers in the future?
We call the car rental company. A female voice automatically and monotonously asks us a series of questions. We respond with single, well-defined words. The next question depends on our answer. In this way, we are guided through the entire procedure, e.g. extending the time of using a rented car. On the other side, however, there is no human being, but an automaton that reads us defined sentences. There is no room for arbitrariness, but it is not the case here. The most important thing is to solve the problem we are calling. And it works.
This is the optimal situation. Of course, it happens that our case is not in the directory read by the machine. Then what? We wait for a connection with a consultant or we are sent back to the rental office to talk to its employees on site. Therefore, modernity is intertwined with the traditional approach to customer service. It is worth considering which direction the world of call centers will take – improving systems or training consultants?
Easier is Not Better
As the example above shows, we already have systems that allow for free computerized customer service. These systems generate speech and recognize what the client says – thanks to this, they can react to the information conveyed by the interlocutor. Given the technical possibilities available today, one might ask why they are not really being used on a large scale. After all, it would be possible to automate the process of communication with the customer in all banks, medical facilities, information points, etc. This would mean great cost savings and efficiency. Machines don’t make mistakes, and even if that’s probably less than human. The service would therefore be of a good standard. Why do we not use it?
Where is it coming from? Remember that people who call the hotline have a problem to solve or a challenge they are facing. They are usually determined, sometimes scared, sometimes worried. However, they always expect an individual approach, they want someone to take their problem as seriously as they treat it themselves. They care about understanding, advice tailored to their situation, often just a conversation. Can the computer provide this? Unfortunately not. Even if he can suggest the correct solution to the interlocutor, he is still only a machine that does not understand a human being. So – it cannot give the call center customer what he needs.
And even if computers can replace people in some customer service centers, there will still be areas where a consultant is indispensable. Wherever emotions, sensitivity and a sense of the situation count, no machine will work.
Let us recall, for example, the extreme and difficult situations that are commonplace in emergency call centers. Children notifying their parents about a sudden illness, a woman begging for help under the guise of ordering a pizza – in such moments the computer will not decipher the true intentions of the caller, will not calm the child and will not tell him how to help a parent in need. It is similar in the case of, for example, insurance or banking customer service – talking about your future, about difficult, often painful matters, about diseases, fear – requires a certain level of intimacy and trust that cannot be achieved in contact with a machine.
In conclusion, I believe that people still prefer to talk to a human than to a computer. I am aware that the role of remote computer customer service will increase, but with the upcoming professionalization of the telemarketer profession, the respect for people working in contact centers will also increase. They will be appreciated more, and companies will want the telemarketing processes most important from their point of view to be handled by well-trained consultants. What’s more – I think that over time entrepreneurs will treat a well-functioning call center and consultants working in it as their advantage on the market, proving that they approach customer service professionally.
When trying to answer the question “Can a computer replace a telemarketer?”, One should properly ask: “Will customers want to be served by computers – systems over the phone?”. Each of us has to answer this question for himself. I answer “no” – I definitely prefer to talk to a human being. Will the next generation respond similarly? I personally think so.