24 May ROBOTS AND HUMANS WORKING SIDE BY SIDE
Corporate managers who had previously assumed that automated systems would supplant their human customer service agents may have to rethink their strategies for the future. The way in which technology is deployed alongside human workers will be crucial to the survival of businesses over what remains of the 21st century.
Retaining the Human Element
What firms have already discovered, through their experiments with automated call handling software and answering machines, is the fact that customers do not always respond well to technological advancements that promise greater efficiencies at the expense of personal service. Any commercial organisation that wishes to capitalise on the technological developments that lie in the future would do well to remember that the human element is still of vital importance as far as their customers are concerned.
If you are currently planning for the future and want to make sure that your company avoids making the same mistakes that have been made by other organisations when introducing automated systems into the workplace, the following points should be born in mind.
- Automation Should Support, Not Replace, Your Employees – One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when they attempt to introduce automation into their call handling functionality is taking things a step too far and replacing the human element completely. As anybody who has been asked to leave a message by a robotic voice will tell you, it is not the most pleasant way to be greeted the first time that you contact a company. Software that redirects calls to human receptionists in a remote call centre when your sales team are busy is a very good idea; a system that asks them to choose from numerous multiple choice options before asking them to leave a message is not.
- Automated Systems Can Create New Jobs – Whilst conventional wisdom might suggest that the introduction of more robots and automated systems into the workplace will lead to largescale job losses, this is not necessarily the case. There will of course be areas of employment that decline owing to technology replacing human workers but at the same time, there will be opportunities for growth and new jobs created in other areas. If, for instance, you are able to provide your customers with better products thanks to automation on the shop floor, you may well find that you start to attract more business and subsequently need to take advantage of the services of a call handling company to cope with the volume of enquiries you receive.
- Robots Cannot Read Emotions – There may well come a time when robotic devices are able to accurately gauge the mood of a caller simply by listening to the timbre of his or her voice but that time is not yet here. If you want to make absolutely sure that you are able to gain the maximum benefit from every marketing campaign that you launch, human sales agents will be essential to your future plans. The mood of callers and their emotional reactions to the information they receive when they make an enquiry can offer valuable clues that help experienced sales representatives to close a sale. Failure to take full advantage of these clues could lead to a significant reduction in the turnover that your business enjoys.
- Technology Is Constantly Evolving – Many companies are reticent to adopt new technologies when they first appear on the scene and this can lead to a loss of competitiveness from which it is hard to recover. However, what can cause more damage to a company’s reputation and future is a sudden and overenthusiastic adoption of the latest gadgets and systems without pause for careful consideration. It is important to bear in mind that technology is constantly evolving and what might look like a very attractive and sensible proposition for your company right now could turn out to be a big mistake with hindsight. It is always a good idea to evaluate each new development carefully, and to consider all the implications that it may have for your business and your customers, before making any changes to the way that you do things in the workplace.
What to Leave and What to Take
If your business is to thrive and survive in the long term, you will need to decide which technological developments to adopt and which to avoid. Whilst this might at first sound like a task more suited to Nostradamus than the average corporate manager, it is not as difficult as you imagine. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering whether to adopt a certain new technology or automated system, which should help you to avoid making too many painful mistakes:
- What do Our Customers Think? – Sometimes the best solutions to the most difficult problems are the most obvious. If you are not sure how your clients will react to a new automated process or robotic device, ask them!
- What Is the Anticipated ROI? – If a fully automated call handling system, for example, is likely to cost more than it saves your company, it might be better to delegate responsibility for this function to a specialist third party service provider instead. In this way, you will be able to save money and retain the human element at the same time.
- How Disruptive Will It Be? – A new technology or system that takes too long to introduce is probably best left until it matures.
If you would like to ensure that you can continue to offer your customers a cost effective and efficient personal service without recourse to automated telephone answering systems, Netcall Solutions is here to help.