People have joked about a robot uprising since the beginning of time – or maybe just since Metropolis. You know the story. People build robots to help, then at some point, the robots become self-aware. Eventually, we end up in an “OMG the world is ending” situation. A less dramatic reality currently discussed is that robots via automation can come for our jobs. We now have the technology and have begun to embrace the idea of self-driving trucks, and drones are already conducting trials to deliver your next pizza. A darker side of automation has seen manufacturing jobs eliminated or heavily changed as robotic machinery took hold over the past few decades. There is a real fear for some that automation will come for their jobs. An American businessman ran on this very platform during the 2020 Presidential election.
But what about responsible automation? The concept of leveraging AI and robots to alleviate the more mundane tasks while humans focus on complicated and stimulating projects. Can robotic technology still help us with this while preserving the workforce? That is, after all, what we created them for.
AI and the evolving workforce
Responsible automation is a concept that has been creeping into the lexicon in recent years. It essentially claims that an investment in automation does not have to be a detriment to your human workforce; it merely unlocks their time and skills for more critical tasks. Many may view responsible automation as a concept for multi-national corporations, but it’s benefits can help small businesses with scarce resources.
Deloitte and The Prince’s Responsible Business Network have determined that robots can take over many menial tasks in the future. This transition will allow the human workforce to focus on creative problem solving, effective communication, and enhancing industry relevant skills. For small businesses, this would allow headcount to focus on growing the business rather than just sustaining its essential functions.
How SMBs can leverage responsible automation with omnichannel
Let’s look at two relatively benign use cases for automation at a small business. The first is live chat. In a perfect world, most companies would love to have a team of dedicated service reps operating a live-chat 24 hours a day. After all, this is a digital channel where lots of their customers love to engage in business inquiries.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many small businesses can’t allocate resources to a team whose sole responsibility is to respond to every query in a live environment. What a small business can accommodate is a chatbot. You’ve probably used one before. They have a range of functionality and can be programmed to fulfill basic or complex requests, depending on the level of programming performed. But most chatbots are used for simple requests. Think shipping times or stock quantities. What’s more, a chatbot could have built-in functionality to escalate to a human employee – who now spends most of their time working on strategic goals – for those more advanced questions.
The case for IVR
Similarly, we look at the case for Voice and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Just as it may be cost-prohibitive to hire a team to manage a live chat channel, it’s even more costly to have a group of humans answering and routing calls. 61% of customers still prefer to use the phone for customer support, so we know the phones will be ringing. Installing IVR to your voice platform empowers your existing staff to handle more complicated matters while AI tackles the more menial inquiries. “When does your store open? How do I process a return? What’s your address?” IVR can handle it.
For a small business, the goal should be to allow customers to reach you on all channels in a simple-to-use interface. Your chatbots and automated voice programs can be simplistic, but that’s all you need because your happy and more fulfilled human employees can take it from there. For more information on Mitto’s omnichannel solutions for chat and voice, give us a call at +1 (424) 653-3380, or check out our chatbot in the bottom right of your screen.