The future of the managerial hierarchy in the contact centre in an era of advanced technology.
When it comes to advanced technology in the contact centre, the focus is usually on the implementation of automated technology such as chatbots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and the benefits its introduction can have. There are very few discussions, however, on what happens next.
Knowing who will take the reins and be responsible for managing a contact centre’s non-human resources is a part of the process that is rarely looked at in-depth. Since any automated project is unlikely to succeed in the long-term without proper management and supervision, this is an oversight.
With automated technology in customer service on the rise – Gartner believes that chatbots will be responsible for 85% of customer interactions by 2020 – it’s pertinent to bring up the question of who manages, trains, improves and takes responsibility for this new workforce, and to consider what skills they will need in the new role of ‘bot boss’.
A new way of working
The introduction of automated technology into contact centres has had its fair share of naysayers, with fears that AI will put call centre agents out of a job. However, this technology can actually be a help, rather than a hinderance to contact centres by adding new skills to the workforce and creating new jobs altogether.
A robot manager for example. Whilst this role doesn’t come with a run-of-the-mill job spec, and the details of an RPA manager role will differ between organisations, essential requirements will remain fairly consistent. Responsibilities will range from developing and configuring automation processes, to maintaining knowledge and skills of robotics and AI, to conducting boardroom meetings.
The risks and controls of robotic colleagues
With a new job comes new challenges, and the role of bot boss comes with its own particular trials. Since a key part of an RPA manager’s role is to create the controls that shield the company from harm, it’s essential that the robot performs its duties as intended. While the risks of using RPA are minimal, and tend to be contained by the solution itself, the robot’s manager should be responsible for its work, taking into consideration problems that could occur.
The failure or breakdown of a robotic agent for example, is an eventuality that the manager should plan for,particularly to ensure that human agents retain the skills to cover an outage and customer service isn’t negatively affected.
On the subject of customers, the bot manager should alsofully understand how the robot interacts with customers, such as whether they are providing erroneous information that leads to customer complaints. They should also be responsible for understanding the risks and maintaining processes that monitor customer data use and detect when data is lost or stolen via the RPA solution. Indeed, security is a top priority for the bot manger, and keeping the software up-to-date and regularly patched will lower the risk of a security breach and the loss of customer information.
A unique skillset – what to look for in a bot boss
Managing robots is not a straightforward job. It requires both technical skill and an understanding of the customer, so knowing what to look for in a potential hire can be difficult.
They will need to be technologically adept and be comfortable working with RPA solutions, and understand how the application fits into the wider contact centre ecosystem. On the more managerial side, they must move seamlessly fromcontact centre operations to reporting on a robot’s progress in the boardroom. They will also need to have an understanding of customer needs on an emotional level. Having a manager – or managers – that can cover every aspect of the role is vital.
To understand what type of person is most compatible with this role, reaching out to universities and researches who have studied the psychology and interaction of robots and humans is a good place to start. Contacting colleagues on LinkedIn who have experience with automated technology can also help, as they can share their job specifications and early mistakes that they’ve learned from.
Since bot bosses are new to everyone, not just the person in the role, it’s crucial for management to have a succinct plan in place to check in with the bot manager. They will require more feedback sessions to talk about problems and improvement suggestions, and they will also need to have the reins loosened ever so slightly for when mistakes are made in this new frontier.
As the growth of robotic processes in contact centres and customer service shows no sign of slowing down, it’s paramount that the entire process of introducing automated technology is explored, especially if the technology is going to provide long-term benefits. Having a bot boss who can keep the robots in check is the first step to robots and humans working harmoniously together to create better customer service.