BPA Featured Article

Automation Cannot Replace Human Quality Monitoring

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
February 07, 2017

There are a lot of apocalyptic-level changes to worry about in 2017. While some focus on climate change, others are wondering what the increasing levels of automation will do to global workforces. Turns out, the latter isn’t something to view as science fiction. A report last year from Oxford University predicted that about 50 percent of jobs globally are at risk of automation, and this number rises to 85 percent in developing countries with economies that are manufacturing-based. In a recent article for Huffington Post (News - Alert), Dan Rogers, cofounder of Peakon, imagines what automation could do to work in general in the future.

“The future will be a repeal of the ‘you are only valuable to society if you work’ Protestant work ethic, and an embrace of the fact that pretty soon computers, algorithms, and robots may be able to do much of our work for us,” he wrote. “Some countries are already testing Universal Basic Income as a way of mitigating the effects of technological unemployment.”

While we’re certainly not in a position to let machines do all our work yet, automation led by artificial intelligence (AI) is also taking the world of customer support by storm. Chat bots, or automated chat “assistants,” can handle routine inquiries. Smarter IVRs route calls, mobile apps can be designed to offer self-service, and easy-to-search knowledge bases mean that customers are resorting to human intervention only for complex and unusual requests.

The good news for contact center workers is that customers have no shortage of complex and unusual requests. Then there’s the matter of maintaining quality for automated processes: can an artificial intelligence truly monitor the quality of a transaction (with an eye toward a positive customer experience) that will please a human being? AI won’t “get” irritation, annoyance, anger, satisfaction, amusement or happiness…not for a long time, anyway. So while it’s important to monitor for quality by recording calls and screen capturing digital interactions, taking the human element out of quality monitoring is a very bad idea.

If you are automating a lot of functions in the contact center, it’s more important than ever to have humans monitor transactions for quality. Services provided by third-party remote call monitoring companies, for example, can ensure that those automated transactions are actually helping customers and not driving them away. As of 2017, machines still can’t tell whether a customer is “happy” or “dissatisfied” the way a human being can. 

Edited by Alicia Young