Robot Agents - Just Five Years Away? | Performance Management Blog

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Robot Agents - Just Five Years Away?

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Automation has changed the day-to-day operations at call centers around the world, and has made the job of the agent easier.

But will the non-stop  advance of technology also make the job of the agent obsolete?

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, many of the 1.2 million call center positions in the Philippines may soon be replaced by customer service robots. This is happening primarily with non-agent positions - such as monitoring the performance of digital networks. But the article suggests that the robot agent revolution may be as close as five years away.

Will it happen in the U.S. as well? Certainly some companies may embrace the prospect if it means cutting costs - but no matter how it is implemented, these companies also run the risk of cutting customers as well.

In this political season rife with rob-calls, consider the frustration most of us experience in listening to recorded message that cannot be altered. Now apply that same principle to a contact center customer trying to ask a question or place an order.

An automated voice cannot make a customer feel appreciated. No matter how sincere the "We appreciate your business" recording is, many will think, "If you really appreciated my business, you'd hire someone to let me know in person."

And no matter how much foresight is applied to anticipating customer requests, there is no way to have an answer programmed to every question. Thus, several customers will still be forwarded to a live agent, and wonder why they couldn't receive that kind of attention in the first place.

We have all come to embrace cutting-edge technology as a boom to our businesses and our lives. But at some point it's wiser to take a step back, and understand that just because something is technologically possible, it doesn't mean it's better than what has gone before. 


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