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The Magnitude of Human-to-Human Interaction in a Time of Distress

Sharath Keshavanarayana
March 26, 2020

I just got off the phone with a Marriott call center agent helping me cancel my upcoming stay in NYC. I have the Bonvoy member self-service app, but I still chose to call. That instinct, the desire to spend 15 minutes with an agent rather than a couple minutes in the app made me reflect on the 'aha' moment of Observe.AI.

As a founder of a company that focuses on augmenting technology to enhance human-to-human interaction, the last couple weeks have been a reflective experience to say the least. Technology simplifies workflows, and as engineers, we originally thought Observe.AI would revolutionize the BPO industry by automating agents. We soon realized from a technology perspective (today), this was impossible, and from a customer perspective, human-to-human interaction is extremely critical. My call with the Marriott agent made me realize why.

We Need Human-to-Human Interaction

Since our pivot, we've built an agent enablement platform with end-to-end monitoring, auditing, and a coaching framework that helps contact center agents be more impactful. In the past few weeks, I have been so thankful we took the path we did, and at its core is human-to-human interaction. While live chat and other forms of communication are still available, phone support has peaked.

I won’t be surprised when folks introspect and realize that a majority of people called in and were happy to wait in-line for their issue to be resolved, or sometimes just to talk to a human on the other side.

I've had thousands of conversations with agents, quality analysts, and call center leadership, and I realized that in many cases, customers call because they have nobody else to talk to. In times of panic and gloom, they'll see incremental rises in CSAT numbers, despite the disruptions in workforce and longer wait times, because there is a human on the other end of the line who is solving their problem, not a voice bot or automated system.

Sometimes it's the simple things that make a massive impact: a heartfelt greeting, an empathetic "how are you," or a soulful "thank you for calling." These moments elevate the customer experience, because no matter how much we try to automate, a real human with a real voice is what people want to hear no matter the wait, no matter the cost and inefficiencies that might come along with it.

A Thank You to Our Partners

Partners like Concentrix are putting their agents in hotel rooms so they can be more comfortable while working remote. ERC BPO is gifting high quality headsets to their agents to better provide an even higher customer experience. I've been continually inspired with the posts from other partners like itelbpo and CCI South Africa. These companies are putting their employees above profits, because they know in the long run, people like talking, buying, and being supported by people.

Observe.AI, and our peers in the Voice AI space will continue to innovate and solve problems, but as a fellow human, we never want this human-to-human interaction to go away. Instead, we want to continue to enhance and up-level it.

We want to thank our BPO partners who continue to put their people above their profits, and make a real difference. Lastly, we want to thank every individual agent across the globe, who are receiving more calls than ever before, and delivering that human-to-human interaction that's never been more important.

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About the Author‚Äć

Sharath Keshavnarayana is the Co-founder and CRO at Observe.AI, and has over a decade of experience in the customer care space. Connect with Sharath on LinkedIn.

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