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The future of the workforce Vs AI

Artificial intelligence (AI), offers several benefits to business leaders, including giving them access to a 24/7 resource which never tires, rarely makes mistakes, and doesn’t charge a monthly salary.  

However, world-leading analysts Gartner recently shared their insights with CX Today, stating that companies that rely too heavily on AI will be opening the door to serious risks. According to Emily Potosky, the Senior Director of Research for Gartner’s Customer Service and Support Practice, even the most advanced AI algorithms still have limitations. They shouldn’t be seen to replace humans but instead as a solution to augment and empower existing teams. 

The Impact of AI on Customer Service Jobs 

Fears that AI will replace human beings are increasingly common, now that AI is more advanced than ever, concerns are growing with the rise of deep learning models, generative AI, and neural networks. 

Up to 3 in 4 Americans now believe AI will reduce the number of jobs available to workers, and customer service agents feel more pressure than most. Countless contact centre solutions are enabling companies to reduce their reliance on human skill sets with generative AI bots and automated workflows.  

According to one HFS Research report, customer service and sales were two of the top departments most likely to be impacted by AI’s transformation. 

However, while AI solutions can accomplish a lot in the contact centre, analysts like Potosky believe some level of human assistance will always be crucial. She’s not alone in this opinion. In a recent Gartner survey, around 61% of business executives believe AI won’t reduce their human headcount in the contact centre by more than 5%.  

The Limitations of AI in Customer Service 

We’ve discussed previously how AI tools can augment human professionals, helping them streamline and optimise repetitive tasks.  

For instance, McKinsey suggests up to 64% of data collection activities can be automated, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for a data scientist for bot training, data analysis, and creativity.  

Similarly, in the customer service landscape, AI tools can creatively respond to common questions, help customers troubleshoot problems, and even complete tasks like processing transactions. 

However, they can’t understand emotions and context to the same degree as humans, which leads to the potential for misinterpretations. They also can’t show empathy, creatively develop new ways to solve problems based on their experiences or reassure a concerned customer. Not to mention, there are various other, more technical challenges to consider. Replacing humans with bots entirely in the contact centre would require a great deal of technical knowledge, development expertise, and constant monitoring. 

Augmentation 

At DDC OS, we believe in giving people the tools and resources they need to be as effective as possible. Like Gartner and many others, we see AI as a way to enhance human performance, not replace it.  

As Potosky noted to CX Today, AI tools can provide employees with the context, support, and guidance they need to excel in their roles. AI might reduce business leaders’ dependence on skills and expertise, widening the talent pool to engage in customer-facing work. This may mean that business leaders don’t need to hire as many additional staff members to handle spikes in call volume. However, it won’t eliminate the need for humans. Instead, it will help companies manage rising costs and challenges by: 
 

  • Improving productivity: Rather than just replacing human agents with automated workloads, AI can be a helping hand that reduces stress and strain during busy seasons. It can help teams hit the ground running with the correct information when queries are escalated and accelerate the path to problem resolution. 
  • Increasing retention: In an environment with rapid turnover, like the contact centre, AI can help reduce turnover risk. Companies could use AI to route “simpler” queries to new hires while they’re learning how to excel in their role.  
  • Enhancing development: As customer expectations evolve, companies can use AI to deliver employees more personalised and effective training & development programs. Generative AI can be used to create training initiatives, deliver real-time coaching sessions, and identify opportunities for additional training. 

The Future of AI in the Contact Centre

Many organisations have already cut down their human teams, rushing to adopt AI simply because they want to keep up with the competition, without understanding the potential risks they’ll face.  

However, Gartner believes the increasing prominence of AI in the contact centre will lead to significant changes in the years ahead, influencing how companies adopt the technology. In the coming years it is likely the EU will update its consumer protection laws to give every customer the right to speak to a human. It’s certainly something that may occur if, AI at some stage leads to harm to a customer.  

Taking the Right Approach to AI Adoption

Ultimately, relying exclusively on AI to manage customer service processes can be a big risk. It risks the well-being of your customers and impacts your brand’s reputation and ability to retain consumers long-term. AI has limitations, from the common hallucinations of generative AI tools to the lack of empathy and sometimes biased behaviours that bots demonstrate. Despite this, Gartner believes that by 2028, a third of customer service interactions will involve autonomous agents. 

We believe there’s nothing wrong with embracing AI’s potential, particularly if it augments and supports your agents, increases employee engagement, and streamlines customer service interactions.  

To find out how we can help you, get in touch or follow us on LinkedIn

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