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Why technology cannot replace the activity of call center agents

Currently, the integration of robots into call center activity, automation and artificial intelligence are among the most debated topics. Thus, in an era of digitalization, it is impossible not to ask ourselves: can technology replace people? Certainly, no one can deny the fact that technological progress is useful, but until it reaches the point where artificial intelligence will be able to replace human workforce, it will take a long time.

Recent studies show that most customers would rather interact directly with an agent, to the detriment of a robot. More specifically, 83% of consumers want their problems to be solved by a real person. They believe that agents can have a better understanding of their needs (78%) and they are able to seek for more solutions at once (57%). The main complaints that customers have regarding their interaction with a robot are the robot’s inability to solve complex matters, to provide tailored solutions to their needs and to understand human nature.

Of course, we all agree that technological progress is a great asset that helps call center agents, enabling them to easily keep in touch with customers. Process automation allows a company to be available to consumers outside working hours and can provide support to agents in peak times, when they are working at their full capacity. At the same time, automation can solve the most frequent and predictable customer requests, which are both repetitive and time-consuming. This allows agents to deal with far more complex matters. Thus, technology helps increase agents’ efficiency and productivity. But what technology cannot replace in the call center activity?

1. Automated processes cannot provide a unique customer experience to every client

The customer care services that a company offers to its clients are perhaps the most important factors when thinking about the customer’s experience with that company. Why? Because through the quality of these services, the company proves to its customers how much they are valued and shows that the brand promises are real. Now, more than ever, to keep customers satisfied, it is important for a company to form a more personal, long-lasting relationship with its clients and to have an emotionally positive impact on them. Companies need to show to their clients how much they care about the situations they are facing, to prove how much they are willing help them and to reveal the human nature of the brand. And those things could be done mainly through the company’s customer services, which are also responsible for providing a positive customer experience.

2. Robots and Artificial Intelligence cannot deal with complex situations that happen in a call center

When a customer turns to a call center services, they expect to receive useful information and the best solutions for the problems they encounter. Nothing is just black or white, and many of the situations encountered by an agent also require their resolving power. Robots will never be able to replace people’s ability to offer solutions that involve complex processes, to make sure that customer needs are fully met. How can an algorithm counterbalance a man’s ability to understand, negotiate and communicate? Only a real agent is able to handle complicated situations, where the client needs extra help or when his request exceeds the standard processes.

3. Technology cannot fully relate to the customer’s needs

A customer-oriented company provide to its client’s helpful customer support services and it makes sure that the agents will understand their customer’s needs.  Of course, consumers can also value automated processes, if they offer a solution, but a robot will never be able to understand a customer at a human level. Whether we are referring to that special attention that clients usually seek, to their need to be understood and listened to, or to be able to give feedback, it’s obvious that no automated process can meet these needs. Therefore, call center agents will always be the most important resource in a contact center, to the detriment of automated solutions and bots.

4. Robots and artificial intelligence are unable to adjust and personalize the provided services

Clients usually have different profiles and various preferences. Therefore, when a company looks out for the most appropriate ways to provide customer support services, it needs to bear in mind all the existing options. Whether we are referring to the communication channels or to the solutions provided to its clients, adapting them to their customer’s profile is essential. Companies must allow their clients to contact them through various communication channels, like phone, email, live chat or social media. By offering these possibilities, companies can make sure that all their customers are satisfied and that their loyalty will increase.

5. Technology cannot be creative

Being creative and efficient when solving the customer’s requests is an indisputable advantage that a call center agent has in his work. But technology or a robot will never be creative in the same way the agent provides support or communicates. Bots are useful when interpreting data or when used to perform standard requests, but not in situations when a little more imagination is needed to provide the right solution for a customer. Even though the activity in a call center is not a very creative one, usually the way an agent communicates with a client can be. And it is recommended to be so. Preset scripts are an obstacle in creating a more personal relationship between the client and the company and this is also true when using robots and artificial intelligence in customer support services.

Despite all the advantages that technology offers, a robot will only be as smart as it was designed to be. But in a call center there are countless situations when the customer would rather deal directly with a real person for getting support. People and robots have different skills, that can often be complementary. When artificial intelligence and human activity are effectively integrated in a call center, this can provide excellent services to customers.

In conclusion, the role of robots remains to take on repetitive tasks or to provide support to agents to increase the time in which they provide support to customers. In addition, automation spares the time that agents would have spent solving the easier, but time-consuming requests, allowing them to focus more on customer’s interaction, to be more attentive to their needs, and to provide them the support they expect. But for now, technology cannot replace the activity of a call center agent.