The Crucial Role of Human Employees in AI Deployments

By Juan Martinez, Senior Writer
December 13, 2019 • 3 minute read

With automation so effective at improving productivity and repeating basic tasks, companies might be tempted to reduce headcount, or to minimize the critical role humans play in day-to-day operations. Doing so would be a severe mistake.

We’ve always been clear at IPsoft that Digital Colleagues are meant to complement rather than replace human workers. They can automate tasks because they’re informed by data, thus allowing human workers to focus on more unique issues or complex projects. With automation so effective at improving productivity and repeating basic tasks, companies might be tempted to reduce headcount, or to minimize the critical role humans play in day-to-day operations. Doing so would be a tactical and strategic mistake.

Employees Are Essential for AI Training

Once a Digital Colleague (or Digital Employee) has been fed all of the data and business process rules that it needs to do its job, it’s the job of humans to help create the most human interactive experience. To complete this important project, you should assemble a team of the most open-minded, creative and empathetic employees. After all, many will be concerned that AI is being deployed to take their jobs (no matter how many times you tell them otherwise), so having them involved in the design and deployment process will demonstrate their value to an AI project’s success.

This group of select employees will be responsible for helping to create a range of dialogue possibilities, including tangents that people might take during conversations, and idioms people could use when speaking with the digital worker about your specific business, regardless of your industry. This kind of activity is essential to capture your company’s unique positioning, voice and style.

These employees will also help to optimize a Digital Colleague’s linguistic responses, focusing on correcting mistakes or altering responses that sound more robotic than human. They will test your digital worker to ensure that it’s answering questions with emotional intelligence (more on this later), and following the appropriate business processes and their associated word choices.

Humans Help Program Emotional Responses

Regarding emotional responses, your team will be crucial in helping to ensure your Digital Employee puts the correct emotional tone and weight behind every interaction. What triggers might anger customers? Is your Digital Colleague dealing with acceptances and rejections? Will it be handling fraud-related issues? Every industry (and every business within every industry) is different, so how emotional responses are handled cannot be universally preconceived by software vendors.

For example, if your Digital Colleague handles rejections, should it remain firm when rejecting a customer, should it take a more understanding and empathetic approach and offer alternative plans, or should angered customers be immediately escalated to human agents? These decisions require more than simply making sure your digital worker uses empathetic language and cheerful emojis. Your team can go through every possible scenario and choose the best responses to help determine how Your Digital Colleague should use its emotional intelligence.

If Your Digital Colleague encounters a request that isn’t covered by its training, it escalates the request to a human colleague. When it escalates a conversation, it also stays connected to its human co-worker to determine how the issue was resolved, and then can apply that knowledge to any similar conversations and avoid unnecessarily escalating future issues. This crucial step is impossible without the assistance of your human employees.

Expanding Your AI Employee User Base

After initial success with this first employee team, you might be tempted to deploy your AI system immediately across the entire company. Don’t. Start with another, slightly larger group of employee end users. They can repeat the same process and testing as the previous group, but remember, this second team might not be as open-minded as the first group, so more hand-holding might be needed, and they may be a tougher sell on AI’s overall value. Don’t get discouraged. After a while they will come around, especially as they start to fully understand how a Digital Colleague will help improve their jobs, not hinder them.

Ideally, these employees eventually will realize that thanks to a Digital Colleague, they will be tasked with less repetitive work, and be armed with powerful information more quickly, making them even more efficient and productive. In turn, they can tell their human co-workers about the rote tasks that have been taken off their plates, and how easy it is for them to find information through the digital worker. AI technology, they will say, is making their jobs easier, not eliminating or diminishing their roles. And when word gets around, people in other departments will start to ask when they’ll have a chance to work with the technology. Demand will spread.

These are just a few of the many reasons your employees are crucial to your AI deployments. Don’t make the mistake of viewing AI and human labor as conflicting forces. They’re complementary forms of work that perform best when working in concert.

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