Human or Machine? In 1950 Alan Turing proposed the Turing Test as a way to answer the question, “Can machines think?” A computer passes the test when a person can pose questions to it and no longer that the responses are not human.
So far, no computer has yet to pass the Turing test. However, a new breed of human is capable of FAILING the Turing test: offshore call center operators. Although there are humans taking the calls, the responses they give to many questions have become increasingly formulaic. Questions posed may be misinterpreted, as the reps pick up on a key word but misunderstand the nuances of the query. Often, they repreat the same phrases over and over, giving a “broken record” sound.
7 out of 10 Indian Call Centers fail the Turing Test for at least one of these reasons:
- Continuous repetition (“broken record” effect)
- Incessant Confirmation (e.g.,repeating each question verbatim, and appending “is that correct?”)
- No end in sight – combining strings of “have a good day,” “is there anything else I can help with?” and “thank you for calling” to create an infinite loop of polite chit-chat rather than terminating the call
- Lack of comprehension – the question might be heard and even answered, but was it ever truly understood?
- Lack of empathy – you can feel it when a rep is “answering tickets” rather than answering people
There is big money at stake. U.S. Call Centers represent a $23 billion industry. The Indian call center ndustry is equally staggering. What makes this worthwhile is that a call center rep may make $3-$9 per hour – and comapnies know that most customers value their time more highly and will try to accomodate the “automatons” answering the phone in order to speed up the process.