Replace or enhance? That’s the question many people ask when discussing implementing artificial intelligence (A.I.) in the workplace, fearing that computers will put them out of a job. Just this past September, Forrester released a report saying that 6 percent of U.S. jobs may be replaced by A.I. and bots by 2021. For employees, this may sound ominous, but it requires an explanation of what jobs, and what aspects of jobs, are evolving as a result of A.I.
Companies across industries are beginning to leverage A.I. and virtual assistants to streamline communication with customers and increase productivity. The field service management industry, for example, is beginning to tap into A.I. capabilities to enhance workers’ skills and improve efficiency. With A.I.-powered bots emerging as a new channel for customer service and engagement, this presents an opportunity for organizations to automate service and support for customers. Companies are just beginning to realize the capabilities of A.I. and its potential to revolutionize the field service industry. Here are few areas in which companies today are adopting A.I. to improve processes and overall customer service.
Enhancing the Role of the Call Center Agent
A.I. presents an opportunity for field service companies. Employers are recognizing areas in which A.I. powered technology can assist humans in completing basic, mundane tasks. For example, manually inputting and collecting data in the contact center. Instead of replacing human workers entirely, the technologies instead enhance agents’ skills and allow employees to focus their attention beyond routine tasks such as collecting and reporting information to handle responsibilities that require deeper insight and analysis. For many companies, customer issues and inquiries are still reported and routed through the call center. In fact according to a recent study from Accenture, 73 percent of consumers choose a human over a digital capability when seeking advice or looking to resolve a service issue or complaint. The high volume of calls coming through the support center can be overwhelming and overbearing for call center agents to track and maintain customer information.
A.I. can help manage high volumes of incoming data, collect key information such as contact details and record customer service requests. This allows the contact center to process basic information quickly and free up time for call center agents to address more complex customer calls and issues. Field service companies with a high level of data can especially benefit from A.I. technology. In incorporating A.I. into contact center operations, companies can ensure all incoming information and inquiries are inputted automatically and in a timely manner. A.I. can also schedule maintenance appointments, report customer inquiries and capture critical information, again, allowing agents to focus their attention on more strategic tasks. Not only will this streamline the administrative process and increase productivity, but it will also allow agents to increase response time and improve overall customer service. While A.I. certainly won’t replace agents entirely, it will help automate admin processes, improve efficiency and allow human workers to focus on more critical responsibilities.
With the emergence of A.I. technology, it’s expected that we will see less of a need for human dispatchers in the future. By incorporating an A.I. function into the dispatcher process, bots can replace humans by collecting data and recording inquiries automatically. A.I. can assist in automating scheduling for example, to help assign specific jobs and organize daily tasks for technicians in the field. Not only does this make the process of building technicians’ schedules more efficient, it also ensures field service workers are staffed appropriately. Overall, this helps in making sure requests are addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible and the customers’ needs are met.
Overseeing the dispatcher process has often been a challenge for organizations as it can be difficult for supervisors to determine if dispatchers are behind schedule and fully oversee operations to determine whether things are running smoothly. In fact, one of our telecommunication customers, Emitel, managed to reduce the number of dispatchers by half by leveraging different technology to automate the process completely and make the dispatcher more efficient through various support tools. In automating this process, it can help to streamline scheduling and ensure that field service workers are assigned to jobs right away and prepared with the proper information and tools when heading into the field. In doing so, technicians are more likely to have the tools needed to complete a job every time.
The Infinite Capabilities of A.I.
A.I. and bots have the potential to increase employee productivity and automate overall business processes. Through deep learning capabilities, the potential of artificial intelligence has no ceiling; machines can be programmed to grow smarter over time and have the ability to evolve with new tasks. While A.I. will take over more menial tasks and inevitably replace some jobs, for example, in the instance of dispatchers, it will also open new opportunities and create new jobs. As technology continues to advance and machines grow smarter, humans too will continue to learn new skills and fill more complex roles.
Aviram Hinenzon is VP at Verisae, an Accruent company.