Are you ready for the shift in call-center staffing from mostly humans to largely chatbots?

Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 customers will manage 85 percent of their interactions with companies without interacting with humans.

Utility call-centers dealing with anxious customers calling about service problems might use chatbots to engage in text messaging conversations with customers seeking outage information. Younger consumers tend to prefer texting as their primary channel of interaction. Plus, until machine learning becomes sharper, chatbots are still best suited to replying to the written word versus human voices.

Human interaction won’t go away in call centers because customers will always want that to some degree. The key for utility executives and call-center managers is understanding when humans need to pick up a conversation from a chatbot. By digitally recording past customer interactions, utilities could get a better picture of when human operators ought to chime in. 

Soon linemen and contractors will be called to jobs based on specific skill sets because drones and chatbots will handle much of the repetitive work that humans now do inside utilities. This will allow dispatchers, managers, field personnel and staff to focus on developing and carrying out better strategies for restoration.