As new forms of communication and information technology become easily accessible, the demand for instant accessibility to information and services is increasing. Companies are implementing automated systems to better serve their customers; however, many of these systems are poorly designed and have caused consumers inconvenience and frustration. Virtual telephone customer agents are one of the examples that companies are employing to solve these problems by putting human voices to a machine. Unfortunately these customer service systems do not have emotions like humans, and have caused more confusion to the users because their responses are not coherent with real human behaviors.
When people communicate with products that do not comply to the rules of the natural environment, they feel frustrated and make mistakes. Computers therefore are more enjoyable to use when they synthesize with human behaviors. The traditional service industry does not have this problem because they rely on the emotional intelligence of human customer representatives to provide quality of service. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the meaning of emotions and their relationships, and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. I am interested in exploring how we can design computer systems with higher emotional intelligence to improve the quality of customer service with automated systems. In this paper, I analyze how human customer representatives use emotion to serve their customers and how the knowledge can be applied to design better automated customer services.
Master Thesis. Completion date: May 2003