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Tomorrow’s contact centre ushers in of the bionic agent

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KARIN KRUGER, Operations Director at Innovation Group South Africa, discusses why the evolving contact centre agent role will be vital in reshaping the industry, along with customer perception of businesses and brands, and future career options.

“Good day and welcome to our convenient automated self-service customer care line. Please listen to the available options and make a selection. Press 1 for billing. Press 2 for administration. Press 3 for…”

5 minutes later and you realise you got side-tracked and stopped listening.

“You have not made a selection, please make a selection so we can better assist you. Press 1 for…”

You growl in frustration. Here we go again! This time, you pay close attention, finally making a selection… only to be redirected to another series of prompts. And all the while, you’re just waiting to hear the only thing that can save you from that frustratingly robotic automated voice.

“…or press 9 to speak to an agent.”

Finally!

 

This is the contact centre of today, or at least, this is how most people think of it. In their minds, the contact centre agent is a dying breed, rendered almost entirely redundant by new technologies. But surprisingly, the opposite is true.

The younger generation is so in tune with their tech that they’re practically bionic, and most of the older generation wouldn’t know how to use 90% of the apps on our phones without them. The same can be said for the technology which the contact centre of tomorrow will operate on – we’ll need savvy digital natives who we can rely on to run it. That’s why the introduction of new technology into the industry is actually gradually increasing the need for agents, and reinventing them at the same time.

Gone are the days of the contact centre agent as a disembodied voice on the other side of the phone – an easy target for angry callers to vent their frustration on. Instead, the customer experience orientated contact centres of tomorrow will require agents to fulfil a more exciting multi-facetted role.

They will be well-versed communication specialists on all platforms, whether it be over the phone, email, WhatsApp, Facetime, or social media. They will work with data provided by personal user preference profiles, speech analytics and biometric identifiers to deliver the best possible, personalised experience to callers, while ensuring the security of their confidential information. And finally, they will be master communicators and networkers.

Clearly, digital transformation in the contact centre industry is being built around agents, not over them. So, like the motor in any machine, they will be at the heart of the contact centres of tomorrow, driving memorable customer experiences. Since their attitude toward their job will be a great determining force in garnering brand loyalty and stimulating growth for businesses and brands in the long run, their value as staff in the modern working world is about to skyrocket.

Yes, the contact centre of tomorrow is primed to become one of the most exciting career tracks for the multi-talented and ultra-connected millennial generation in the years to come. And it’s the companies that are ahead of the game, investing in new business processes to take the industry further that will attract the best candidates. This should be every organisations aim if they hope to disrupt and succeed in this digital era.

So, ask yourself, are you ready for the contact centre of tomorrow?

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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