Technology is essential, but no danger of humans being replaced by AI,
Contact centre management specialist Aquarium Software, believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is unlikely to replace humans any time soon, so contact centre staff need to brush up on their humanoid interpersonal skills, alongside rapid technology developments. While anticipating that AI can and will increasingly undertake many roles humans now perform, Aquarium asserts that the desire for humans to have meaningful and spontaneous interaction with other people, is going to ensure many contact centre operatives retain their jobs.
Aquarium’s omni-channel solution already integrates several streams of contact into one seamless, unified desktop. This puts the information humans need together far faster and more accurately than an employee could do it, but to deliver a genuine customer journey, human input is still needed to offer spontaneous, empathetic thought and action, as even common sense solutions remain a step too far for the most powerful algorithms.
“AI is already incredibly powerful, and while performing many integration and optimisation tasks that our clients take advantage of, AI as depicted by The Terminator or Star Trek remains firmly science fiction,” said Aquarium’s Managing Director, Ed Shropshire. “The smartphone in your pocket is more powerful than all the computers that put man on the moon, but short of a major breakthrough none of us is anticipating, true AI remains an unreachable mirage. The problem is, software is powerful enough to beat chess grandmasters and makes it easier for customers to do business with you, but it is way behind children and even animals in terms of emotional understanding and engagement.
“People tend to be surprised that digital intelligence alone is not enough”, added Ed. “Common sense as only humans can employ plays a much bigger part than realised, but is overlooked because it is something people take for granted. Sometimes defined as the difference between knowledge and wisdom, intelligence in the customer service environment is far more nebulous; it is difficult to foresee complex emotional problem solving being performed satisfactorily by a robot.
“Technology is great for solutions requiring ‘huge thinking capacity’ such as working out a prime number to 30 digits or processing millions or billions of bits of data in a consistent way. But a frustrated sat nav wrong turn, or a cursory chat with Siri, are fine examples of the absolute limitations of AI.” YouGov research commissioned by Aquarium Software in 2016 shows 75% of Brits think at least half of all contact centre activity is dedicated purely to making sales calls and as just 4% are exclusively sales based, AI is not in a position to help the industry challenge this false view and could serve to reinforce negative perceptions. Aquarium believes that AI will further revolutionise contact centre work in the coming years, but that some things are going to remain the preserve of the human employees indefinitely.