Technology is a Live CS Agent’s Perfect Complement

By Matt McConnell, Intradiem

The certainty that technology is about to replace human customer service agents is once again the talk of the town, stoked by news of breakthrough tech like ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools. But it isn’t. Because no matter how smart technology gets, it will never be a satisfying substitute for a human-to-human connection in all but the most basic customer service interactions.

Contact centers should continue to view technology as a complement to live agents, not a replacement.

Customer service interactions hinge on efficiency and trust, and technology and people have clear advantages on either side of that coin. But the right technology can actually enhance trust as well as efficiency; in addition to accelerating processing tasks, it can also provide stronger support to help agents deliver more consistently empathetic, human experiences.

Innovation has usually been concentrated on bringing improvements to only two of the contact center’s three primary stakeholders: operations and end-customers. But the needs of a third stakeholder — frontline agents — have not received the attention they deserve. Technology can help fix that.

Consider agent attrition, a costly consequence of our inability to provide the right support to agents — who are, after all, the face (voice, more often) of our brand in the eyes (ears) of customers. Many factors contribute to attrition, chief among them being the frequent failure to provide effective time and stress management tools as well as timely coaching, training, and other professional development to keep agents’ skills sharp and their well-being high.

Intelligent automation fills this gap, solving problems that frustrate agents. Take employee breaks, for example. Hard-working agents need their breaks, but they’re often shortened or crowded out completely by inefficient management of inflowing calls. In response, agents sometimes seek workarounds. For example, let’s say an agent who’s just completed a customer call is scheduled for a break in two minutes. Calls average four minutes, so taking another call will eat into the agent’s break.

Scenario 1: The agent — let’s call him Jesse — chooses to do the right thing for the organization and take another call. It lasts four minutes and Jesse is now two minutes late for break. The requirement to file an “out of adherence” report to explain why he didn’t start his break on time costs Jesse another minute or two. Jesse’s supervisor will need to pass that report to the workforce management team to explain why Jesse was out of adherence, which cuts into her work too. Jesse takes what’s left of his break, but it’s too short to allow him to recharge properly. He returns to work frustrated, and even if he’s professional enough to not let it show during customer interactions, it worsens his mood for the rest of the day.

Scenario 2: Jesse uses a common tactic to beat the system, known as “floor lore.” Like all agents, he knows that if he toggles between AUX states he will appear to remain active, and keep moving to the back end of the caller queue. He kills two minutes this way and avoids taking another call before breaktime.

In scenario 2, Jesse got his full break but at the price of longer customer wait times and lost productivity for the company. In scenario 1, Jesse prioritizes company interests, loses most of his break and internalizes some frustration. Over time, frustrations grow, and agents quit. Replacing a departed agent like Jesse can cost an organization thousands of dollars, and some contact centers experience turnover rates of 50% or higher.

Intradiem is developing an AI-based solution to help reduce the financial and personnel impacts of contact center agent attrition. Our goal is to allow for early identification and intervention to prevent agent burnout and promote well-being and engagement. This innovation will save organizations significant money and provide critical insights to help managers support their agents more effectively.

Intelligent automation delivers a consistently supportive and engaging work experience to both remote and in-center customer service teams, empowering agents to bring their uniquely-human traits (empathy, flexibility, judgment) to solve the variety of problems brought by customers each day.

Intradiem provides Intelligent Automation solutions that help customer service teams boost productivity, enhance employee engagement, and improve the end-customer experience. Our patented AI-powered technology processes the massive quantity of data generated by contact centers and back offices and takes immediate action to support both in-center and remote teams. Customers can count on an investment return of at least 2X in the first year and a 3-5X payback in subsequent years. This year, Intradiem’s customers will save more than $150 million. For more information, visit