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The Internet, The Grateful Dead, and the Tie That Binds — John Perry Barlow

by | Nov 5, 2019 | Connect | 0 comments

INFOCU5 is a hybrid of a virtual call center and a brick and mortar outfit. INFOCU5’s online model represents the web-based side of the business and our agents who take the calls generated through INFOCU5’s marketplace represent the real-world aspect of the business.

And while the company has this duality, it is safe to say we depend on the Internet for our survival.

We take the Internet for granted. We move around freely, going anywhere we please to explore, purchase, take in entertainment, drive traffic to your website to increase company revenue, you name it.

But that freedom was largely achieved through the efforts of many people, who doggedly fought to ensure a free and unfettered Internet.

I wrote last week about my love for music and the Grateful Dead has always been my favorite bands. One of the lyricists, John Perry Barlow, was one of those Internet pioneers.

Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 1990. After his death, the organization wrote on its website, “It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow’s vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others, regardless of physical distance.”

At the time of his passing, Barlow was a harsh critic of net neutrality, the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally – with no Internet service provider (ISP) having the power to favor one source over another by blocking, throttling, or a means of paid prioritization. Net neutrality is a crucial aspect of keeping everyone on the Internet on equal footing.

Equal access to all sites on the Internet is a fundamental concept and the right of all who use the Internet. A perfect example of what might happen if net neutrality were overturned and ISP’s could provide preferred access to certain sites would be for Spectrum and Verizon’s servers to provide faster speeds and easier search engine access to a competitor over INFOCU5 because the competitor paid them for that privilege.

Net neutrality represented everything Barlow spent his life fighting against. It could be argued that he fought it to the death.

Barlow and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead wrote a song called “Throwing Stones” that looks at a dystopian world ruled by monolithic corporations and dark forces. It could be argued that the institutions and characters in the song would be the kind of characters that would try to control the Internet for their own purposes.

Thankfully, people like John Barlow fought the good fight and have kept the Internet on an open playing field where everyone has access to information.

The debate surrounding AI in the contact center industry is a juicy one. Typically, there’s two camps — those believing AI can be utilized to enhance a customer’s experience and those believing customers will be surrendered over to an automated abyss, inevitably leaving them unhappy, annoyed, and looking for greener pastures.

AI has made impressive strides since machine learning popularized in the 1980s. Today, the deep learning capabilities powering AI are propelling the likes of self-driving vehicles and drones, detecting cancer better than humans, and on a smaller scale, aiming to make an average customer service interaction far more efficient and effective. When used right — as an enhancement rather than a replacement — here’s how AI can elevate your customer’s experience:

EFFICIENT SELF-SERVICE

Self-service is more appealing than ever. Oftentimes, when customers have questions, they don’t necessarily feel the urge to endure the long wait times in the queue to get answers from an agent. AI has provided the means for troubleshooting straightforward issues through automation, and according to Forrester, the web and mobile self-service is utilized 76 percent of the time. Self-service limits the potential for irritation of encountering a green customers service agents and long wait times.

CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS’ EMOTIONS

The success surrounding a customer service interaction has way less to do with the product or service in question, and much more to do with how the service agent interacts with the customer. Tone, inflection, and even key phrases are major indicators of how a customer is feeling, however, not all service agents pick up on these social cues. CallMiner’s Sentiment Analysis takes stock of the stress levels customers may be experiencing and puts that data to good use, enabling service calls to become more effective and keen to the customer’s disposition, and how to proactively de-escalate issues.

DATA GATHERING AT ITS BEST

Data is the golden ticket for learning what your customers want and how they view your brand, but manually gathering that data and making sense of it all is a tedious task. Machine learning and AI simplifies the data-gathering game. Based on the specific metric a business is hoping to understand or resolve, AI can zero in on the data needed to find a solution. After all, AI is designed to imitate the functions of a human being.

CHATBOTS – THE NEW PERSONAL ASSISTANT

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re at least minimally aware or have experienced an interaction with a chatbot. Research suggests that by 2020, 80 percent of businesses have plans to incorporate chatbots into their customer service departments. Chatbots serve as a backup for call center representatives, while also having the capability to walk customers through easy-to-answer questions or simply serve as a sort of assistant to agents. While an agent is on another a call, chatbots can work through gathering essential information, enabling an agent to avoid asking the monotonous information, and instead, jump right into helping the customer. It’s a win win.

Experience better performance, greater quality, and more transparency throughout your customer’s life cycle while increasing average order value every step of the way.

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