Robots and Artificial Intelligence: Fear or Fan?


Automation. Artificial Intelligence. Machine Learning. Robots.

Everywhere we turn, we hear more and more about the impact technology is having on the workforce today, and how it will rapidly continue. There is no doubt that millions of jobs will be taken over by robots in the foreseeable future. In fact, the World Economic Forum recently released that 5 million jobs will be lost to automation by 2020.

Instead of fear, the truth is that all of our readers should be very excited about this because research also shows that millions of new jobs will be created! The question today is:

Will your job be eliminated?

Forbes estimates that by 2020, at least 1 million B2B sales roles will be eliminated. And already, customer service, recruiting, sourcing and order entry jobs are being automated at lightning speed. Both inbound and outbound automated phone calls are getting so good at interacting with you that you might question whether the voice on the other end of the line is real or robotic.

With artificial intelligence and machine learning getting better every day, how then, do you prevent your job from being eliminated due to technology, particularly if you are in sales or customer service?

1. Understand the reason why sales or customer service functions are automated

Repetitive functions, low skills, or low value added by a human touch are targets for automation. Companies are feverishly trying to find those areas where human intervention does not improve the customer experience or outcome and automate them.

Sadly, many “sales” interventions do not improve the customer experience. Sales people who are simply “order takers” can get in the way of sales. They slow down the process, they introduce human variability/error and can even cause the customer to defect.

Conversely, sales professionals who can understand the customer unique needs and wants, match solutions specifically to them, and also negotiate and/or persuade them to decide to purchase, are highly valued by both the customer and the company they work for.

The ultimate goal for organizations is to free up the time spent on mundane, repetitive, low valued tasks so their people can provide high value added human touch to each customer interaction.

2. Learn new skills

Skillsets will need to be radically altered/improved to keep pace with the changes taking place in the world of work. If businesses are to keep up with the disruption brought on by advancing technologies, they will need to help their staff learn new skills. Skills that help sales and service professionals create solutions and solve their customers complex problems will be of particular importance as shown in the chart below. Top sales and service professionals will excel in these skill; all of which are very difficult and costly to automate.

3. Use the time that has been freed up by automation wisely

Understand this: automation or robots are there to take on the tasks or jobs that don’t improve your skills or challenge your thinking, and with these tasks freed up, you have been given the most precious gift of all – time!

How nice is that “ok google” or “siri” can quickly get you what you need so you can have the answer faster, get to where you are going without concern, or make the phone call immediately? Alexa, Roomba, Nest, the list goes on and on, are all meant to give you time back to do what’s more important. Same goes for the automation in your organization. Time is freed up for you to do the more important things.

What IS more important is having conversations with your prospects and customers that make a difference. Conversations that help them understand how you and your company’s solutions can make their lives better and solve their problems.

What IS more important is working with your team and your direct reports if you have them to focus on the customer and improve every touch or “moment of truth”.

What IS more important is innovation and discussions about how you and your company can become strategic thought partners with your customers to improve their business outcomes.

If you embrace these three principles, automation will bring you new and better roles and free you up to devote more time and effort in mastering skills and delivering incredible value to your customers.

Butler Street helps companies and their people grow. We understand the world is rapidly changing and new skills must be developed to sustain success in a rapidly changing environment. Our focus on sales, service, recruiting, leadership and marketing all help companies and their people develop the skills and focus to compete today and in the future. CONTACT us

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