Bot Versus Agent—You Need Both!

Dick BucciDecember 13, 2022

The challenge for contact center executives today is how to deliver memorable customer experiences profitably.  Employees are costly and increasingly difficult to recruit and retain. Our industry has had some success in replacing agents with automation. Employment of customer service representatives has declined by 132,000 from 2019 to 2021.1

However, so has customer satisfaction, dropping to a level not seen since 2015. Self-service is ideally suited for basic interactions, but when things get complicated—and they are—you need a well-trained, empathetic, and knowledgeable person to help solve your problem.

Although it is possible today to complete many interactions without human intervention, the public is not yet completely sold on the notion of substituting bots for people. In 2020 Verint commissioned a survey—administered by an independent third party—of 1,000 US consumers. People were asked about their interactions with chatbots and Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs). Most consumers appreciate chatbots in some capacity, with 56.5% of respondents finding chatbots “very” or “somewhat” useful. Conversely, just one-fifth of users found chatbots “somewhat not useful” or “not at all useful.”

Organizations seeking to deliver superior customer engagement need to appeal to all their customers, including those that are not yet ready to embrace bots. Verint has wisely addressed this dilemma with a range of robotic and human solutions. The key is to deploy automation when it presents the best solution for the customer but be prepared to pivot to the agent when the situation calls for it.

Verint One Workforce™ enables the entire workforce to engage with customers in the right way, at the right time to increase capacity, flexibility, and agility. Bots and people work together in unison, with each delivery mode doing what it does best.

Consider a typical interaction where the customer questions a charge to their credit card. The call is answered by an IVR that routes the call to the robotic agent that authenticates the caller. There are several ways to perform authentication, but voice biometrics is a frictionless and virtually foolproof way to confirm caller identity. Verint Identity Authentication and Fraud Detection verifies callers in real time passively.

From there, bots take over the interaction aided by the Verint Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA). Through its conversational AI capabilities, the Verint IVA solution delivers personalized, human-like interactions with customers across digital and voice channels. Verint IVAs can answer questions 24/7 in more than 40 languages, proactively assist customers, provide guided resolution, capture insights, and transfer interactions to live agents.

But this may not be enough. The customer may wish to debate the answer delivered by the bot—that is when the agent steps in. The caller may request “agent” or take some other action to summon live help. Fortunately, it can be any agent that is available at that time.

Verint Knowledge Management provides businesses with consistent information that makes any employee the right employee, regardless of where they sit. Verint workforce management software can schedule both bots and human agents to help assure that hand-offs between people and bots are smooth and agent time is productively deployed.

Finally, when the interaction comes to a favorable conclusion it is time to close the loop. This often requires action by departments outside the purview of the contact center. Verint Operations Productivity analyzes employee effectiveness. It calculates how much work should be done based on work type, standard handle times, and scheduled time in production and compares employee performance against those goals.

So, it is not a question of bots versus people. You need both.

 

Dick Bucci
Pelorus Associates

www.pelorusreports.com

 

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019 and 2021