All Google’s AI call center agents take mornings off • The Register

Your correspondent once met the manager of a contact center that deals with processing parking and speeding fines. This guy’s “customers” were understandably almost always unhappy, and people who answered the phone got more than their fair share of resentment and insults as a result.

90 percent therefore quit their job within a year.

Other call center operators don’t have to deal with 90 percent turnover, but 50 percent annual turnover is not uncommon.

Customer service operations do their best to automate grunt work so their best people can be deployed on the kinds of jobs that require people to solve problems. This type of job is more fulfilling, so these employees stay longer and learn to provide quality service over time. In theory, therefore, automated systems improve service and reduce the huge recruitment and training costs that contact centers face.

We offer this brief introduction to customer service in the context of a Monday outage at the Dialogflow CX service from Google, the search and advertising giant describes as an AI-infused offering that creates automated agents that “resemble a human call center agent. You’re both training to handle expected conversational scenarios, and your training doesn’t have to be overly explicit.”

The technology behind the Google Assistant powers the service, which offers both chatbots and voicebots. Google says whatever you choose, they “deliver more natural customer experiences” and “support multi-turn conversations with supplemental questions.”

when they walk

Which they weren’t between 10:19 am and 12:40 pm Pacific Time (1719 to 1940 UTC) on Monday, September 19.

During this time, Google’s Summary of the incident referred to the incident as “agents unable to take calls” and said its impact meant “phone calls may be unavailable for Dialogflow agents and customers may also expect longer wait times on calls.”

No explanation was offered for the outage, which Google said affected both Dialogflow and its Cloud Machine Learning services.

Google outages are often not caused by misconfigured software going into production. Whatever the cause, outages at top-tier clouds are embarrassing because the big hyperscalers claim they offer superior resiliency to even the top-tier SaaS players thanks to the massive scale of their operations.

In this case, the outage is particularly annoying as contact centers have been encouraged to adopt automation to solve their other problems.

The registry has asked Google to provide more information about the cause and impact of the outage and will update this story or post another when we receive a more informed response. And we will try to guess whether this answer also comes from a human or an AI. ® All Google’s AI call center agents take mornings off • The Register

Laura Coffey

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