Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 65 - Page 38

CIO OPINION
Service bots are far more capable than the early generation info and transactional chatbots . They can handle the complex advisory-level logic required to clarify , analyse , resolve and action customer service queries .
Ryan Falkenberg , Co- CEO , CLEVVA

Why the emergence of virtual agents can be a win for South Africa ’ s BPO sector

Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) and virtual agents have been seen as a threat to contact centre jobs . But what if they ’ re an opportunity ? Ryan Falkenberg , Co-CEO at CLEVVA , a digital self-service automation company that builds and deploys digital experts , outlines how virtual agents can work with human agents to deliver better results .

South Africa ’ s business-process outsourcing ( BPO ) sector has built its reputation on the quality of its people . Our contact centre agents are some of the best in the world , offering warm , efficient customer service experiences via voice channels .

This has resulted in impressive employment growth within this important industry . With the increased adoption of digital self-service channels such as WhatsApp , however , there is a real risk that virtual agents powered by AI may undermine this growth .
Virtual agents
What are virtual agents ? These are digital versions of human agents , designed to ask the right questions , give the right answers and perform the right actions in resolving customer service queries . They engage directly with customers via digital channels such as websites , mobile apps , WhatsApp and e-mail . The question is , how much of a threat are these virtual agents to the jobs of human agents ?
The simplest form of virtual agents is a chatbot , or info bot . This early generation of front-office digital worker
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