One of the greatest quotes attributed to the late Mohammed Ali was, 'Don't count the days, make the days count'.
This seems to fly in the face of today's world where we measure everything including the steps we take, rather than just enjoying the walk for a walk’s sake.
Every action and event is either actively snapped and shared and rated on our smartphones or increasingly, passively recorded to provide a detailed profile of where and what we do to predict and persuade us what to do next.
Just this week I read in ‘The Times’ about the growing  popularity of Amazon’s Echo, a voice controlled personal assistant product which can control a myriad of household functions from recording TV, switching on and off appliances, booking tickets and answering commands. It certainly makes a change from yelling at the kids or your other half! These functions are described as ‘skills’ - a reminder if one was needed about the incredible power of artificial intelligence as it builds capability by echoing our every move. And of course Echo and products like it, won’t forget anything or become overloaded and confused, unlike our less than perfect human brains.
One of the great challenges of delivering customer service has been the frustrating inability to nurture helpful measures which determine a customer’s real experience or the complexity of an outcome driven by a dedicated professional going the extra mile. Our industry has a tendency to default to measuring time bound inputs rather than trusting colleagues to deliver magic moments; the things that count.
The advent of artificial intelligence is forcing the debate about the future of humans in delivering service, in the same way that the possibility of offshoring customer service forced the debate about the role of contact centres in parent organisations - in other words it shines a light in a dusty corner.
Bill Gates said, ‘We tend to overestimate change in 2 years but underestimate change in 10 years’. CCA future scenario projects over the last few years have predicted a new world where individuals will be hired according to proven skills and aptitudes, empathy, complaints management, problem solving ability, and less on generic factors associated with contact centre recruitment. These scenarios also highlighted an increase in flexible working, home working and a portfolio approach to employment.
This transformation is finally beginning to take place in many large brands in the CCA network today, where a variety of drivers including robotics and AI, cloud-based technologies, reduced reliance on centralised physical workplaces, and a need for differentiated and valuable expertise places more power in the hands of those with talent.
One of the biggest challenges will of course be cultural; leading a mixed model to deliver slick automated services seamlessly merged with skilled problem solvers, where the human touch is required; to an increasingly fragmented consumer base with a rapidly aging population is not a leadership role for the feint hearted. Fresh thinking together with greater democratisation of innovation and decision making will be essential.
Our events programme this year is very much focused on supporting these challenges – particularly our Annual Convention on 16 & 17 November – so make sure you have the dates in your diary! Click here to view the upcoming sessions that are available free to Platinum, Gold and Silver members and watch out for more on this agenda in the coming weeks.