How Can AI Boost Call Center Moral?

Original article was published on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

NLP Can Boost Call Center Moral Instead

What if we used these technologies to actually make call center agents’ lives better? I don’t mean coaching them to do a better job. “Feedback overload” is already a recognized problem in call centers. I mean helping them cope with the fact that their job is emotionally draining.

Remember how frustrating it was the last time you were phone with Comcast arguing over your cable bill? Now imagine doing that 8 hours a day. That’s the call center agent’s life.

How I boosted my own morale manually in an IT support job

One summer in college, I worked as a SharePoint IT support intern. It was my first experience taking calls from customers. I learned quickly that most of these interactions are negative. People are frustrated while trying to get a problem fixed. I would get discouraged by lunchtime. I had to actively manage my mood with the tools at my disposal.

Here’s what I came up with:

Whenever I received praise from a customer, I wrote it down on a sticky note and placed it on my cubicle wall. By the end of the summer, my cubicle was covered in praise. It made a huge difference to me.

Those sticky notes kept me going whenever I had to bite my tongue on the phone with an upset customer. They were a constant reminder that the work I do is helping people.

The NLP hackathon challenge for call center agent morale

The problem with my solution is it is highly manual. In order for an idea like this to scale, agents would have to listen for praise and capture it. This takes willpower that might be in short supply call after call.

Remember how NLP can be used to capture sentiment for performance metrics? What if that same NLP engine can send praise directly to call center agents just for a little boost in morale?

  • Idea 1: Imagine a digital picture frame on the agent’s desk. What if it was auto-populated with quotes from customers gushing with gratitude?
  • Idea 2: Could we generate a collage of positive quotes and set it as the agent’s desktop background?
  • Idea 3: What if we take the most positive audio clips and create a “greatest hits” podcast? The agents could listen to it weekly and relive the highlights from the previous week.

I don’t know about you, but it feels to me like a cool hackathon challenge!