Easing automation anxieties through up-skilling

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Automation is a word on the lips of many a business professional these days. Inevitably it inspires hope for the future for many a decision-maker, but it’s also responsible for raising fears amongst workers that their jobs might be under threat. With OECD figures predicting that 46 per cent of jobs are likely to be “significantly affected” by automation over the next 20 years, it’s not exactly an unreasonable fear to have.

In the midst of our much-vaunted digital transformation, it can be easy to put the thoughts of individual employees to one side as you pursue the advantages of new technologies. However, it’s also true that human engagement will remain an essential part of business, so forget your people at your peril.

Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is a key area where automation is already having an impact, with tools such as interactive voice response (IVR) and chatbots really beginning to make their mark. This might understandably be causing some anxieties among workers, so it’s crucial that companies do what they can to show employees how their roles remain a vital part of the business, and do everything in their power to ease these fears by re-training and up-skilling their workers.

A major point to make from a customer service standpoint here is that automation in the contact centre focuses largely on solving simple queries, such as when a delivery is going to arrive or an update on stock availability. But when a more complex issue arises, who do you turn to? You guessed it – a human member of staff with the ability to deal with complicated requests that are beyond the capabilities of, say, an automated chatbot. That’s a given, and it isn’t going to change any time soon.

To make sure staff are fully aware of this and feel reassured that their job won’t be swallowed up by a robot, it’s important that they’re comprehensively trained to work with and alongside these new technologies, to the point where they feel empowered – rather than threatened – by their presence. This includes giving employees a detailed lowdown on how automation can actually help them to do their jobs more efficiently, by acting as a tool to support them in their daily activities.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation might be a priority, but employee fulfilment and satisfaction should be held in equally high regard. Any organisation is nothing without its people, so it’s paramount that the power of automation to be a driver of better productivity is communicated to each and every person at the company. If this can be done, those rumblings of discontent will ease, people will be happier and the entire business will be better off as a result.

To learn more about our customer engagement software and how it can assist employees, click here.

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Colin Whelan

Colin Whelan has been a part of the Customer Contact Industry for the last 25 years, leading and supporting the UK & Ireland communities as a thought leader in resource planning, Back Office Optimization and Data, Analytics and Insight. Working for Companies including Barclays Bank, First Choice Holidays and Barclaycard, before joining Aspect as a Senior Solutions Consultant he was the Head of professionalism for the Forum, where he was instrumental in the development of the world’s first accredited University qualifications for the customer contact industry, along with standards in reporting, targeting and the use of intelligence. This career committed to developing and sharing best practice was recognised in April 2015 when the Forum Community gave Colin it’s “Industry Hero” award, “Over the past 7 years Colin has been a key figure within our community, committed to improving professionalism, making a huge contribution to the body of best practice in areas such as data analysis, back office planning and forecasting methodology. He embodies passion and enthusiasm for our profession.”
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