Will Telemarketing Become Automated?

It is an invisible force that goes by many names. Computerisation. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Technology. Innovation. And, everyone’s favourite, ROBOTS.

Whatever name you prefer, some form of it has been stoking progress and killing jobs—from seamstresses to paralegals—for centuries.  However now it is predicted that nearly half of American Jobs could be automated in a decade or two.

Telemarketing used to happen in a crowded call center, with a group of representatives cold-calling hundreds of prospects every day.  Of those, maybe a few dozen could be persuaded to buy the product in question.   Today, the idea is largely the same, but the methods are  far more efficient.

Multitudes of today’s telemarketers are not human. In some cases, as you’ve probably experienced, there’s nothing but a recording on the other end of the line. It may prompt you to “press ‘2’ for more information,” but nothing you say has any impact on the call, and  usually, that’s clear to you.

But in other cases, you may get a sales call and have no idea that you’re actually speaking to a computerised system

Everything you say gets an appropriate “human like” response, the voice may even laugh. But how is this even possible?

Well, in some cases, there  may be  a human being on the other side , pressing buttons to prompt you through a pre recorded but extremely interactive marketing pitch.

Using soundboard-assisted calling — regardless of what it says about the state of human interaction — has the potential to make individual call centers employees far more productive.

In some  instances, a single worker will run two or more calls at the same time ! It wont be long until  technology will allow computers to man phones on their own.

Programs such as WASTON, a famous computer system which beat the top human champions on jeopardy in 2011 is growing rapidly in use.  One of its “human” applications is its ability to act as a customer service agent that takes calls and actually answers customer questions. It has an incredible capacity  to tap into large amounts of data and process language very naturally.

As well as speaking with customers, giving them advice and answer complex questions. Many banks have already began using the updated version of  Watson .




But what does this mean for  places like India , who’s economy has prospered from the outsourcing of telemarketing, what will happen when more than 450,000 indian telemarketers are replaced by machines?

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