AI Ethics: AI Tools and the Effect on Agent Quality of Life

In the past, manual scheduling or limited tools in the contact center prevented managers from handling employee input when creating schedules. Employees had to choose between working on shifts that put them at odds with other obligations — or losing their jobs if they weren’t fully engaged. New artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the contact center solve this problem.

When used for scheduling, AI tools can dramatically effect worker quality of life. AI-based scheduling tools can analyze and predict call volumes, look at worker availability, review upcoming campaigns, and potentially look at the types of calls that can be expected as well as the employees’ skills in handling them. These tools can also be used to consider workers’ preferences for certain shifts and even allow workers to bid for time off or break up their shifts into multiple segments.

You can use these same AI tools to prevent over-hiring of contact center agents, which ultimately leads to layoffs when seasonal call volumes decline. By leveling hiring, AI-based tools prevent a lot of stress to both contact center managers and employees.

During an employee’s shift, AI tools let workers schedule a break when it suits them, as opposed to taking breaks in fixed windows. And, by more efficiently matching workers’ skills to a customer’s reason for calling, the contact center reduces average hold times and first call resolution rates. This enables you to reroute calls when workers decide to schedule their breaks.

Create Unbiased Assessments
AI tools can also improve the process for how management assesses employees’ work. Contact center employees might have their calls assessed once every few days by a manager who’s looking after several other employees. Those managers might only be able to spend a few minutes per week listening in on a recorded call, assessing it and then coaching the employee. It’s unlikely that a single call, which represents less than 1% of a call center worker’s total call time, accurately represents of their abilities. Additionally, call managers might be biased in assessing calls based on their relationship with an employee. Any slights or grudges can mushroom into permanent career setbacks for some employees.

AI has the power to give a much broader assessment of an employee’s performance. Instead of listening to a single call per week, an AI system listens and assesses every call — and feeds it into a broader picture of performance. Use AI tools to determine the worker’s sentiment and knowledge of different resolution paths during calls.

Beyond just assessing whether the worker has demonstrated key skills, these systems can recommend training for the worker to further improve performance. The result is a feedback loop in which the employee continues to improve over time.

One concern with recording and assessing the employee is privacy. However, management must be transparent in how it assesses and promotes within call centers. This also frees managers from rote assessments to have more time to coach and further improve employee skills. The contact center workforce, as a whole, becomes more skilled and valuable.

Automate Resolutions for Customers
On the customer side, AI continues to automate resolutions. This means labor savings — removing the traditional work of call answering, data entry and information look up from the contact center worker. Unions and their members must prepare for the reduction of traditional jobs. However, the new role of the contact center agent will be elevated — moving from responsive to active problem solvers. This means you can turn customer retention into sales and provide new abilities, such as vast insights into callers’ behaviors.

Unions must ensure that companies properly deploy and use AI tools so they continue to improve contact center agents’ lives. Check out the entire AI Ethics blog series and join the discussion on AI ethics.