What Will the Future Contact Center Agent Look Like?

I was recently asked the question in the title of this blog when I was briefing an analyst about Sangoma. Without really thinking about what timeframe or anything like that, I blurted out “Probably a computer that sounds like a native language speaker”. In other words, a sophisticated chatbot.  

The reason I gave that answer is because as more and more contact center conversations are recorded (aren’t they all now), there is more data generated. And the more data that is generated means there is more learning that can be gleaned from these conversations. More than a human can go through. And so this data is being analyzed and sliced and diced, and, slowly but surely, being turned over to computer engaging you verbally – the chatbot. Some refer to this process as Artificial Intelligence, but no matter what it is, it is the future in the contact center. This chatbot will engage you more, and take you further down the discussion as time inexorably marches on. It means, over time, less and less real humans.

Chances are you have talked to a chatbot and did not even know it. I once was talking to a person who gave very robotic answers and so I asked “are you a chatbot?” It took some time to answer, and it said “no, I am not a chatbot.” What a bizarre response cycle. At least to me, yes, it was a chatbot. But it was a good one and I didn’t care because it got me what I needed.

Like most contact center innovations, chatbots have been driven by the oxymoronic need to both reduce costs and provide better service. And as speech recognition, text-to-speech programs, and computing power have all improved and come down in cost, the advent of computer driven speech into the contact center occurred. In fact, right now, both Google’s and Microsoft’s speech recognition claim to be 95% accurate, which happens to be as accurate as a human brain.

So, I guess that was all in my head when I blurted out that answer. If I was a computer, I probably would have articulated my response better….

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