Robots are taking over!
That’s the usual response when talk of Artificial Intelligence (AI) surfaces, especially when talking about the Philippines’ call center industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated adoption of this technology, thanks to the surge of call volumes from people stuck at home—fuelling notions that the use of AI processes at call centres could lead to fewer human agents on the production floor.
Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global, one of the Philippines’ leading mid-sized call centres, acknowledges that AI now plays a vital role in call centres throughout the country. However, he is quick to point out that fears of “robots taking over” from humans for customer service roles are unfounded and are of no cause for concern.
“Consumers need human interaction when it comes to customer service concerns. They still prefer to talk to another person, and not a bot with ready-made responses,” Ellspermann says.
Dispelling the fear of job losses further, Ellspermann says AI is still in its infancy, and is really more of a tool that complements—not replaces—the skills of an agent. AI can take over the more repetitive tasks or questions, leaving agents more time to focus on more complex customer issues.
AI also comes with processes such as machine learning and predictive analytics, which Ellspermann says can be used by agents to provide customers with real-time feedback, which helps them to improve their performance.
“This makes both agents and call centers in the Philippines more efficient and productive,” he adds.
And speaking of performance, that‘s really what sets the best call centres apart from the rest—exceptional capabilities in scripting and oversight, as well as attention to detail to consumers’ particular concerns. Through AI, the provision of these solutions becomes quicker and more efficient.
“That’s the beauty of AI: It makes it easy for contact centers in the Philippines to implement and scale their solutions,” Ellspermann says. “AI is able to recognise words and phrases, evaluate possible outcomes, and provides feedback to agents promptly so they can resolve issues in real time,” he adds.
Quicker resolution times also mean fewer cases of irate customers, which directly results in higher satisfaction scores.
“AI has the ability to detect or predict customer’s sentiments, and subsequently prompts agents so they are aware if and when a customer might become angry. When agents are made aware of this, they can address and resolve the issue before it escalates,” Ellspermann says. “AI is able to do this through machine learning, data points related to vocal characteristics, previous call histories, as well as the issue of concern that caused the customer to initiate the call in the first place.”
Such advantages make it more convenient for call center outsourcing providers in the Philippines with sites in markets that are different from their customers’, since AI is able to get around language barriers. With all these benefits, it’s safe to say that robots aren’t taking over humans’ jobs—but they are here to stay.