A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
- Thomas Paine
Old habits are hard to break. In order to remind myself of the behaviors I want to stop doing, I recently put together a list of the worst of mine. I keep it close at hand and refer to it when I feel myself slipping back into old and tired routines. It’s still too early to know if that will make a huge difference in my life, but I am already seeing a few tiny successes.
I was recently approached by a county in Florida to discuss modernization of their contact center. Specifically, they maintain a 311 non-emergency information service that allows residents to call in and ask questions about anything from beach permits to neighborhood recycling programs. They are looking at ways to streamline the experience for residents while giving their contact center agents and supervisors tools to improve productivity.
All in all this is a very worthy endeavor and I have a number of ideas that could be applied to accomplish everything they want and more.
However, I got to thinking about my list of habits and asked myself a simple question. “Are enhanced “dial-tone services” the only way to approach this?” You see, a few years ago that’s the only thing I would have considered. I would have crafted a solution that involved an IVR and screen-pops and been done with it. More recently, I would have added an artificial intelligence service for the agents that helped them to reduce their problem resolution times.
While there is nothing wrong with these enhancements, I expect that the residents of the county are ready for more than a dial-tone way of having their questions answered. If they are like me (and I expect that many are), they have placed smart speakers throughout their house and have grown used to speaking their questions to a pod on their kitchen counters, bedroom dressers, etc. Let’s face it, asking Google or Alexa “How much does a beach permit cost?” is far easier than dialing a telephone number and waiting for a human being to answer their call.
With that in mind, I took a look at the county’s webpage and thought about how I would turn it into a smart speaker app. I began with automating beach inquiries and came up with the following:
My smart speaker app can do even more than that, but I am sure you get the idea of what is possible.
I am the last person to suggest that we need to jettison telephone calls and convert our contact centers into bots, but there are many places where bots can provide quicker, less expensive, and a better user experience.
I just showed you a smart speaker bot, but the same can be done for web chat, social media platforms, and SMS text. For me, if the contact center is providing routine (i.e. mundane) information, taking it away from the mouth of living, breathing human beings must be considered. Let people solve the complicated problems and let machines do the boring, yet important stuff.
Another bad habit broken.