Paul Frew, Head of Contact Center, ahm Health Insurance
When I started working in call centers, the word ‘technology’ was often the precursor to job losses. However, now as a team leader and head of a major contact center, I see technology as vital to enabling those on the phones to deliver a superior customer experience.
My first contact center job was a 60 seat office where we cold called people, inviting them to a property investment seminar. The only equipment I had was a sheet of paper, a highlighter, a pen and ruler. I manually pushed the phone numbers in. I’m only 36 years old. This wasn’t a contact center from 1950 - it was 2001.
Over the past 18 years, there have been technological advances in daily life as well as contact centers. An example of this is the ability to listen to calls for coaching and development, plus watching a replay of what an agent did during a call, improving how they navigate the systems.
The private health insurance industry is highly regulated. It’s imperative our customers are aware of the terms and conditions of the products and services we offer.
To assist the agents in providing this information, we rely on several primitive checklists in Excel to trigger their memory, ensuring this is relayed to them easily and quickly.
There’s technology that already exists transcribing calls to text, and it can be programmed to identify opportunities to improve the conversation with a customer. These insights can be used to provide team leaders and coaches with areas to help develop and support their agents. While this information is helpful post event, I’m more excited about technology coming that will assist my agents during a live call or web chat.
The private health insurance industry is highly regulated. It’s imperative our customers are aware of the terms and conditions of the products and services we offer
I’ve been fortunate enough to witness demonstrations where AI software can listen to the customer and the agent, providing assistance during a live call and ensuring key messages are relayed. With this technology starting to mature in capability, this could be the opportunity to develop a tool where an agent can rely less on Excel checklists and more on the software to guide them through a call.
I believe where our Wollongong-based ahm employees ‘excel’ is in the art of the conversation, something I feel has been lost in recent years. Some contact center agents can sound like they’re reading a product guide or policy statement word for word, just out of fear of forgetting to mention an important detail, instead of doing what they do best—interacting with another human being. I’d like a future where the AI does all the hard work such as remembering to tell the agent what to say and when, so the agent can focus on the easy stuff like making sure the customer feels valued.
Maybe then we might see technology in contact centers in a much different light – one which helps our employees shine, as opposed to it being the reason they’ve lost their job.