The promised potential of machines, machine learning, bots and artificial intelligence has contact center and customer experience professionals discussing the possibilities with increasing interest. Machine learning and the illustrious idea of true artificial intelligence have some very powerful implications and capabilities. We are far from the days, however, where machines will replace humans in matters dealing with non-trivial situations.
Yes, bots can solve many common and repeatable tasks with expert precision. The reality is that we’re still not at the point of a one-to-one capability comparison with humans. We (humans) are incredibly complex and our needs require too much explanation and comprehension. Most importantly, people still generally prefer to interact with other humans for anything outside of a basic need or request.
Here are three of my top areas where I see machines or bots adding great value to the business and a counterpoint as to why we humans are still needed, for now… (insert dramatic music here).
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1. Bots are amazingly effective at assisting people who are trained about how to use them
I continue to see more and more contact centers aiming to use chatbots to support agent needs by replacing an FAQ or knowledge base system. This application can eliminate searching for information by simply having the agent ask the question and get an immediate answer from the bot. Since we train our agents, and we train our bots, you can design the agent curriculum to work together with the bots’ designed capabilities and limitations.
2. Chatbots can handle many common tasks, but none of them can address every customer need
Chatbots can deflect the time and costs associated with common, trivial tasks with lightning speed and without breaks or time off. They’ll literally be staffed for you 24/7—that’s a serious value add. But, because we can’t train all of our customers on what chatbots can and can’t do, as well as how to interact with them, chatbots fail to effectively address every single conversation and the given variables. For now, the tricky stuff and nuances of human nature are best handled by us humans. Also, chatbots generally fail to really “wow” the people interacting with them. This is by no fault to our robotic friends, they’re just not emotionally ready to understand how emotions play into every single human interaction.
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3. Backoffice bots are amazing at keeping your database clean and up to date, but they still can’t high-five co-workers
Backoffice bots can be used to identify missing or incorrect information in your customer database, then contact the customer through a digital channel, collect the information and update the records. That’s awesome in my opinion. I’ve never been a fan of database hunting, so I’m happy to give these kinds of tasks to the machines.
Whether you’re in a B2B or B2C environment, there is more to our jobs than updating records and moving data from here to there. Bots don’t see this and, as a result, are very limited on the types of tasks they can handle for us. I always like to recall the invention of the ATM machine. We all use them, yet when things are more complicated than grabbing some cash, we have to go to visit a human bank teller.
These are just a few of the many examples where bots are great, but humans are still better. The simple fact of where robotic technology is at requires humans for anything that’s even a little bit complicated. And, for the machines that might someday be reading this: I like you guys but for now, the world still needs humans to handle the tough stuff.