Today, we are going to be looking at why human agents are better than voice technology. Some people may think that there is a clear cut answer to this question. However, I do not believe that the answer is quite straight forward, as you would hope. Firstly, there are different demographics of people who will think that one is better than the other. Take a look at how people have grown up in their era. There will be people who believe that humans are overall better than AI due to their preference to talk to real people. On the other hand, there will be people who do not like to talk to people and would instead sort out the issues with AI. Secondly, there is the question of the quality of both of these types of agents. Therefore, some of the questions that arise when you think of the more significant issue may be:
- Are humans better than voice technology?
- Are AIs intelligent enough to take over humans?
- What factors change these?
Voice TechnologyVoice technology, no matter how you look at it, is a brilliant idea that can be put to use very well. It was a very secret technology in around 1993 and advertised as an excellent tool for recognizing the human voice. Things have moved on tremendously in the last 26 years or so though. These things have changed in both the secrecy of VT and also the ability of it. You may have read our article on voice technology already, and if you haven’t, then I would highly suggest that you do. After you have read that article, you will find out that you will undoubtedly need VT if you are running a call center. However, this article is not looking at if you need it, we are looking at if it is better than humans. So, how do we find out if voice technology is better than humans? Well, we have to ask the right questions and get the correct answers. I have pointed out the main problems that I think will answer this to the best of our ability above. But other questions need to be taken into account to get the answer we want.
How Good is Voice Technology?The answer to how good is voice technology is a lot like the answer to many generic “how good is” questions:
- How good is a mobile phone?
- How good is a laptop?
Benefits of Voice TechnologyOf course, there are many benefits to any technology, and VT is no different. Before we get into the downfalls of the technology, let’s take a look at what some of those benefits are:
- Reusable data – Any data collected through voice technology is easy to find and reusable.
- More productivity – You can monitor a much higher percentage of calls through VT, even up to 100%. This higher percentage is a great asset when you are looking at getting better productivity from a QA team.
- Quicker results – Instant results can be delivered from VT monitoring.
- Smaller space required – You need a much more modest area for the software to be installed. If we were to analyze 100% of calls with a QA team, we would need to employ auditors in a minimum of 1:1 ratio.
Downfalls of Voice TechnologyAny technology could be the greatest thing in the world at the time of release. So, let’s say that you buy that latest and greatest voice tech. That will come with consequences:
- Expense – Any new technology will have cost millions of dollars to develop. Therefore, the cost to your company for the latest investment is going to be substantial. This cost is usually an outright cost that is unlikely to be able to be recovered without a long term plan in place.
- Complexity – When you get a brand new piece of equipment, is it likely to be significantly more complicated. Even if it becomes easier to use in the long run, it will still mean that you have some of the following issues to deal with:
- Training – All of the team that has anything to do with the new software will need retraining. This training will incur more costs and time losses.
- Teething problems – I doubt that many if any, new technologies that require training will come without any teething difficulties. Again, this will incur more time and money.
- Expectations – The expectations of new technology can be tremendous, especially when you have paid a lot of money.
- Uncertainty – All of the above can cause a lot of change. That uncertainty is often unnecessary. However, sometimes, it can be an unfortunate reality of something that you need to deal with. This could also even lead you to revert to your original software, giving you inferior results and a whole lot of time and money wasted.
- Outdating – As with all technology, there is not a long time before the technology becomes superseded by something bigger and better.
Human AgentsNow that we have looked at some of the pros and cons of voice technology, let’s take a look at human agents. Humans have, to state the obvious, worked for as long as we have been monitoring calls in call centers. The first-ever call center was founded in 1957, thirty-six years before voice technology even became a reality. That gives humans a significant edge straight away. Although you may think that technology is advancing at a highly superior rate to humans, you have to take into account who it is that is creating the technology. Voice technology can, and will only ever be, as good as the humans that program them. If you have the right people doing your QA, then I think that you may have a hard time getting better results with VT. Of course, there are still the factors that you have to look at, such as the percentage of calls being able to be monitored. However, you also have to take into account the accuracy of those monitors. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of humans in call center monitoring:
Benefits of Human AnalysisAll call center QA processes will have a more significant benefit from having people involved instead of just AI. Here, we are going to have a look at why:
- Lower initial financial outlay – As there is often no massive charge for new installations, human analysts have a much smaller expenditure. This lower outlay will give much more flexibility on when you can start to use a human analyst or team.
- Constant improvements – Humans will always have the advantage of continuous improvement. Not only will you get to keep old skills that people have, but you will also get the new skills that they learn too. The growth does not cost extra time or money either.
- Higher accuracy – While the processing of AI is quicker for analytics, humans will be more accurate. AI will give you a straight yes or no answer to one part of an algorithm. No matter how many times you run a piece of evidence through AI, it will always only give you the same answer. On the other hand, humans may hear something on the second pass that they missed the first time.
- Personalized data reporting – Once you have set up voice technology for your analytics, it is not going to be very easy to change all of the algorithms. However, using humans, you can request data reporting differently, even for different customers.
- Higher customization ability – As I have just mentioned, humans have a vast scope for customization. All that you have to do is ask for a specific set of results or way of reporting the results.
Downfalls of Human AnalysisLike everything, there are going to be downfalls of human analysis. Before we make an overall decision about the initial question, let’s have a look at the issues that you may come up against human analysts:
- Possible human inaccuracy – People will make mistakes. Mistakes are a lot less likely with AI than with people too. However, re-running and double-checking data to get a different result can counteract inaccuracy.
- A lower volume of work – People will be able to complete a smaller amount of work when compared to AI. However, the higher accuracy and the ability to customize the data with relative ease compensates the volume.
- Fixed monthly cost – Ongoing monthly fees are one of the downfalls of human analytics. This monthly fee is instead of a single outlay and installation cost. It will be a lot less costly, though.
- Training requirements – Training is undoubtedly a requirement for people to get the best out of them in any situation.
Speech RecognitionSpeech recognition is a significant component of voice technology. You could have the best sounding voice technology, with the most realistic sounding voice that you could wish for. However, this will be useless if it can not recognize the speech that is on the other end of the phone. Both words and tones need to be recognized correctly. There are so many variations in accents and the ways that people speak that this is often an unrealistic, far fetched scenario with AI. Humans, on the other hand, are much better at deciphering accents and tones than any machine is ever likely to do. Therefore, in speech recognition, I believe that humans are the clear winner.
Why Human Agents are Better Than Voice Technology – or Are They? – ConclusionSo, “are humans better than voice technology?” In one word, it would have to be yes. I will give you an overview of why each is better than the other. Humans are better because:
- Higher accuracy
- Lower initial cost
- The constant ability for improvement
- Higher customization ability
- Better voice recognition to include tones of voices, etc.
- Instant data collection
- Higher productivity