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Tomorrow’s contact centre ushers in of the bionic agent

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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Eugene Kaspersky posts from 2050

In his imagined blog entry from the year 2050, the Kaspersky Lab founder imagines an era of digital immunity

In recent years, digital systems have moved up to a whole new level. No longer assistants making life easier for us mere mortals, they’ve become the basis of civilisation — the very framework keeping the world functioning properly in 2050.

This quantum leap forward has generated new requirements for the reliability and stability of artificial intelligence. Although some cyberthreats still haven’t become extinct since the romantic era around the turn of the century, they’re now dangerous only to outliers who for some reason reject modern standards of digital immunity.

The situation in many ways resembles the fight against human diseases. Thanks to the success of vaccines, the terrible epidemics that once devastated entire cities in the twentieth century are a thing of the past.

However, that’s where the resemblance ends. For humans, diseases like the plague or smallpox have been replaced by new, highly resistant “post-vaccination” diseases; but for the machines, things have turned out much better. This is largely because the initial designers of digital immunity made all the right preparations for it in advance. In doing so, what helped them in particular was borrowing the systemic approaches of living systems and humans.

One of the pillars of cyber-immunity today is digital intuition, the ability of AI systems to make the right decisions in conditions where the source data are clearly insufficient to make a rational choice.

But there’s no mysticism here: Digital intuition is merely the logical continuation of the idea of machine learning. When the number and complexity of related self-learning systems exceeds a certain threshold, the quality of decision-making rises to a whole new level — a level that’s completely elusive to rational understanding. An “intuitive solution” results fromthe superimposition of the experience of a huge number of machine-learning models, much like the result of the calculations of a quantum computer.

So, as you can see, it has been digital intuition, with its ability to instantly, correctly respond to unknown challenges that has helped build the digital security standards of this new era.  

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M-Net to film Deon Meyer novel

A television adaptation of Deon Meyer’s crime novel Trackers is to be co-produced by M-Net, Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF, and HBO subsidiary Cinemax, which will also distribute the drama series worldwide. 

Trackers is an unprecedented scripted television venture and MultiChoice and M-Net are proud to chart out new territory … allowing local and international talent to combine their world-class story-telling and production skills,” says MultiChoice CEO of General Entertainment, Yolisa Phahle.

HBO, Cinemax, and M-Net also launched a Producers Apprenticeship programme last year when the Cinemax series Warrior, coming to M-Net in July, was filmed in South Africa. Some other Cinemax originals screened on M-Net include Banshee, The Knick and Strike Back. 

“Cinemax is delighted to partner with M-Net and ZDF in bringing Deon Meyer’s unforgettable characters and storytelling—all so richly rooted in the people and spectacular geography of South Africa—to screens around the world,” says Len Amato, President, HBO Films, Miniseries, and Cinemax.    

Filming for Trackers has already started in  locations across South Africa and the co-production partners have been working together on all aspects of production 

Deon Meyer, whose award-winning crime novels have been translated into more than 20 languages, with millions of copies sold worldwide, serves as a supervising screenwriter and co-producer; British writer Robert Thorogood (Death in Paradise) is the showrunner. The team of South African writers on the project includes the Mitchell’s Plain playwright, screenwriter and director Amy Jephta (Die Ellen Pakkies Story) and local writer/directors Kelsey Egen and Jozua Malherbe. 

The cast for the six-part miniseries includes Ed Stoppard, Rolanda Marais, James Alexander and Thapelo Mokoena. 

Trackers will make its debut on M-Net 101 in October 2019 and will also be available on MultiChoice’s on-demand service, Showmax. The six-part drama series is produced by UK production company Three River Studios as well as South Africa’s Scene 23. 

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