In any organization, whenever the front-line customer support staff hear that leadership is considering chatbot technology, there’s one fear that spreads like wildfire: “our jobs are at risk!”
It’s completely understandable, humans fear the unknown and, on the face of it, it’s a perfectly rational fear. After all, if part of my job is being automated, am I still able to justify the expense I represent to the business?
Interestingly enough, our experience shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases, this fear is entirely unfounded and, on the contrary, the advent of chatbots in an organization means a spike in employee engagement and a transition towards more challenging and fulfilling tasks. In other words: chatbots mean good news for businesses, their staff, and their customers. There are no losers.
How People Leaders Reconcile Chatbot & their teams
Over the years, we talked to several customer support and operations executives, and it is always quite refreshing to notice that they aren’t following the caricature out there that it’s all about the money and people don’t matter.
Quite on the contrary, we lost count of the number of leaders that said something to the effect of
“I understand chatbots can reduce the workload for my team and that it could mean, in principle, that my team would be too big for their workload, but I see this as a great opportunity instead. "
“I will be reducing the size of my team, but I have decided that no one will be made redundant through it. Employee turnover, particularly in front-line type roles is on the higher side, so I can simply let things run their natural course and not replace people who decide to move onto their next challenge: my team will gradually reduce in headcount over time but it will always be because individuals have decided they wanted something else, never because they were shown the door, and that’s really important to me that we keep our great colleagues as long as they want to stay."
“The second point that I keep in mind is that instead of having a scarce mindset and think about keeping service standard to the same level, I see this as an opportunity to give more value to my customers and deliver even better experiences, now that my team is more relaxed and has more time to dedicate to those customers who genuinely need the support of my team, leaving plenty of space to delight them without the threat of AHT hanging over their heads.”
5 reasons live agents do love chatbots
When live agents understand the perspective shared above, they immediately relax and focus on getting the most from the opportunity, as they realize it brings a lot of value to them as well. Indeed, here are 5 reasons why live agents can truly thrive with the help of this technology
- They don’t need to handle the more frequent and most basic queries.
Truth is, those repetitive queries aren’t agents’ favorite: they do not challenge them, do not require any effort, and essentially leave them numb as they can answer on auto-pilot. When those queries are filtered out by the first level of resolution that is the chatbot, they know that chances are, every time a customer comes to them, it won’t be as straightforward to solve, it will prove a challenge, it will be a problem that genuinely deserves and requires the problem solving and emotional intelligence combo, which is where live agent thrive. With a chatbot, agents have more of these and less of the ‘boring’ questions to answer, win-win.
- There’s less pressure on SLA
As the chatbot is handling these predictable and repeated contacts, the standard of services ceases to rely solely on live agents as the load is now shared with the chatbot. This means, in effect, that there often is less pressure on human agents to adhere to extremely harsh SLAs that were only as demanding because the budget available to the function did not keep up with the demand for the said function. The chatbot solving this equation means the team can be more relaxed and perform with less pressure from daunting KPIs, allowing them to go above and beyond for customers who need them to.
- Less vulnerable to surges
While this is a generalization, the other aspect that we frequently see is that a 40% increase in inbound queries no longer represents a surge in tickets for an individual agent to respond as 80%+ of that additional volume is likely absorbed by the first filter. No more running around like a headless chicken while the house is on fire because the house simply won’t get under fire - and if it does, it won’t last long as the chatbot will catch-up swiftly.
- Teamwork and collaboration
Here’s where it gets really interesting: humans and robots can form an alliance and work for hand in hand. With the help of the virtual colleague, the live agent no longer needs to know every single thing about the organization, it just needs to know a portion of it and know how to ask the chatbot for the other fraction. Why learn a super complex and precise set of rules by heart (or look for 5 minutes on the systems) when all that is needed is knowing how to ask the bot about it? Farewell putting the customer on hold or looking for a supervisor, the chatbot has the agent’s back at all times, making the agent more efficient even when the bot can’t handle the issues on its own.
- Pride & brand ambassadorship
When a business invests in cutting-edge technology like chatbots, it sends a very powerful message to its employees: we care about delivering great service, we care about being consistently great and we want you to be fulfilled at work.
Sounds like a stretch? It shouldn’t! After all, the business has invested money to better cater to customers and in the process, took away from live agents the parts of the jobs that they least enjoyed. Not only that, freeing their times up enables the live agents to upskill, to specialise, to troubleshoot with more time and more resources. Counterintuitively, investing in chatbots is a powerful way to invest in the front-line, their know-how, and their expertise. And the cherry on top of the cake, who wouldn’t be proud to work for a brand that is at the cutting edge and adopting disruptive technologies like cognitive AI chatbots that better the lives of everyone involved?
Everyone’s a winner
This is the real power of implementing technology like ours in a business as there are literally no losers in this situation.
Customers get faster and more consistent service, 24/7 across their channel of choice. And if their needs are more complex, live agents are genuine expert problem solvers to save them.
Live agents are freed up from mundane tasks and are enabled to become genuine experts and upskill themselves. They are more engaged and take more pride in their work, as their time is now a premium: it is restricted only to those who genuinely want or need to talk to a human.
The head of the department is able to deliver better results at a lower cost and therefore helps the business to succeed and can push the roadmap forward.
And the business as a whole unlocks the ability to operate with a lower cost base, making it less vulnerable to downturns whilst increasing their capacity to invest in furthering the business and growing even further, thus creating additional shareholder value, sales, and jobs.
Literally, the only ones who lose out with this are the competitors… and those who wait too long to implement such technologies.
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Gustavo is Vice-President at Yellow Messenger with responsibility for transforming enterprises into success stories across Europe and Latin America.
Previously to Yellow Messenger, he was named a 30 Under 30 in Customer Experience by the prestigious CX Network and was a sought after speaker and a published CX expert having worked in Financial Services, Logistics, Consumer Electronics and market research