Call Center Scheduling in an Era of Bots
When we think of robots, it’s common to think of science-fiction inspired humanoid menaces from Isaac Asimov books or “Blade Runner.” While it’s still fun (or scary) to imagine the future, most robots today bear little resemblance to Hollywood’s imagination. They are an automated arm working in a factory doing repetitive tasks, or a “virtual bot” guiding us through doing our taxes with text bubbles.
A glimpse of the future, however, was available at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES (News - Alert)) held in Las Vegas in January when Korean electronics giant showcased its new customer support robot that will debut at Seoul’s International Airport later in 2017. The robot – which looks a bit like the robot of our imaginations – will help passengers with simple questions and even guide them to where they need to go.
If you’ve got a lot of money to burn and know someone who knows someone, you may even be able to bring a robotic assistant into your home, according to The Australian’s Andrew Baxter.
“In the home, Emotech’s Olly and LG’s Hub will soon be at the beck and call of occupants,” he wrote. “Linked to all the house’s smart devices through the internet of things (IOT), they will respond to simple voice commands to turn the lights, oven, washing machine and kettle on and off. Hub will even scan the contents of your fridge, offer some recipe suggestions, guide you through the preparation and cooking, and reorder the ingredients for next time.”
While it’s not Isaac Asimov’s vision yet, these are first steps to getting humans more comfortable with interacting with smart machines. Olly’s major feature is that its artificial intelligence (AI) platform can recognize human “types”: it learns whether you prefer more leisurely conversation or a fast and direct approach. As this type of robot-human interaction becomes more common, expect to see more customized customer support “bots” in stores and deployed virtually on websites or phone apps.
When it comes to customer service bots, it’s important for companies using them to get not only the bot-customer relationship right, but also the bot-human agent relationship right. Bots, after all, have a limit to what they can do, so it will be common for customer support bots to “pass off” customers to human agents and provide some background to the interaction thus far. While it’s a boon to customer support, it may also be a scheduling challenge.
Call center scheduling is already a complex process. Managers create forecasts to predict call and contact volume, then build schedules to best suit those forecasts. Going forward, managers may have to add another element to call center scheduling: predicting when and how many calls handled by bots will enter the customer service queue. More automated, twenty-first century call center scheduling solutions already make allowances for omnichannel customer support. Manual methods, already nearly impossible to apply to multichannel contact center environments, will likely become obsolete.
Edited by Alicia Young