CCaaS: Why the Smartest Contact Centers are a Blend of the ‘Real’ and the ‘Virtual’

Global cloud communications leader Plivo on the dual power of its Contacto platform

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CCaaS: Why the Smartest Contact Centers are a Blend of the ‘Real’ and the ‘Virtual’
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Last Edited: October 6, 2022

Simon Wright - DP

Simon Wright

Human vs bot – who’s YOUR money on?

No, not the outcome of some kind of post-apocalyptic prize fight. This question is all about the here and now.

In the differentiating world of enterprise customer service, what approach is best?

Human agents can empathise but are costly and inefficient. Bots save money but lack warmth and cognition.

Obviously, a blend of the two makes sense but getting that right can be a challenge.

In today’s hi-tech, super-competitive world, consumers demand wholly satisfying and immediate resolutions to whatever it is that has required them to contact the organisations with which they interact.

Many seek answers to basic, frequently asked questions that are meat and drink to even the most unsophisticated of bots.

Others will have a complex issue to resolve and be utterly frustrated by their inability to spring themselves from an infuriating loop of virtual Q&A that is taking them everywhere and yet nowhere.

So, as they look to get that aforementioned blend right, what are the questions enterprises should ask themselves?

And, when the answers are provided, how should they respond?

“All of us have experienced getting stuck in those loops, whether it’s a chatbot or an Interactive Voice Response system – organizations need to consider that ‘ejector seat’ customer mentality when they design their contact centres,” says Mike Winslow, Product Marketing Manager at global cloud communications provider Plivo, whose clever contact center solution ‘Contacto’ has the power to help.

“Not that getting to a human rep is the ideal ultimate outcome of any call. A high percentage of customers enjoy low-friction, self-service contact center interactions. It’s the more-complex, higher-cognitive issues requiring human intervention and empathy which enterprises must be able to recognise and manage effectively.

“Enterprise and mid or growth market organizations are understandably very keen to optimize and scale via the automation of contact centers. Some talk about Artificial Intelligence to the enth degree.

“But smaller organizations that don’t have the capital to invest heavily, must figure out how to make use of the technology to help them scale.”

There are other factors at play in the human vs bot debate too.

Some large organizations adhere to strict duration times for customer interactions that are to do with maximising agent efficiencies and keeping costs to a minimum.

Those organizations may receive high volumes of customer contacts capable of being resolved via automation, such as FAQs and user password changes.

Other organizations may trade financial efficiencies against the positive benefits of delivering higher-quality, human-led customer service which, in turn, complement sales-enabling and marketing initiatives that ultimately drive revenue.

“The heavily-automated, self-service model can present technical challenges, so they must be overcome in order for it to work,” says Winslow.

“Does the organization have the technical, back-end capability to enable customers to return or exchange a wrong item and/or automatically update their bill or account without the need to speak to a human agent, for example?

“If successful, the more human-led model with an emphasis on delivering better service will support higher margins but will also put pressure on the agent cost base.”

Perhaps, then, organizations should look to their contact center data for help.

“Data is super-important and can really help inform organizations’ strategy,” says Winslow.

“From human interaction perspective, the key measures are average call time and the number of times customers are put on hold. From an automation perspective, it’s metrics like call, chat and chatbot abandonment rates which indicate how many callers are jumping ship due to their issue not being resolved quickly enough.

“The big point is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Also, one of my mantras is ‘experimentation leads to innovation’. If an organization is not experimenting and trying different customer service approaches, then driving improvement will always be a challenge.”

So, human or bot?

Well, of course, it’s unsurprising that there’s no clear winner.

As is so often the case, one size does not fit all. However, deploying a contact center with the power and flexibility to leverage the benefits of all of the options all of the time puts organizations where they need to be.

To learn more about how Contacto can help your business thrive, visit


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