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Will AI replace call center agents?

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Time magazine considers the unchecked rise of artificial intelligence to be one of the biggest threats in 2024. As regulators’ efforts to control AI falter, there is concern that tech companies will be largely free to operate and the most powerful AI models and tools will be able to exert their influence beyond government control.

The call center industry, always sensitive to technological advances, has been quick to respond to the changes by integrating AI capabilities into customer service processes, from handling simple inquiries to helping agents solve complex problems.

AI-powered chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA) assistants are becoming increasingly sophisticated, providing customers with fast and efficient service. Among employees in the industry, questions are increasingly being asked: “Is the profession of call center agent under threat?”

Let’s get to the bottom of the details and find an answer to the question: “Will AI replace call center employees?”

Advantages of implementing AI in the call center

Artificial intelligence (AI) has permeated almost every process in call centers, from interactive voice response (IVR) and chatbots to training systems and data analytics. This enables companies worldwide to create a personalized customer experience and increase sales. Some of the benefits of using AI in the call center are:

Increased productivity

Implementing AI-powered call center software allows for a larger volume of calls to be handled and provides the ability to work around the clock. This means that customers can receive faster and more efficient responses at all times. In addition, AI can provide consistent answers and ensure that customers receive the same level of service every time they call.

Speed of service

The speed of answering and resolving customer issues has become a key factor in improving key satisfaction metrics (NPS, CSAT, CSI, etc.). Modern AI-based chatbots for call centers can answer frequently asked questions instantly, and voice assistants help customers answer questions and quickly navigate complex IVR menus.

Wide opportunities for self-service

The shift away from traditional “live” customer-business communication is clearly discernible. Consequently, substantial investments have been directed towards the development of interactive voice response (IVR) menus and chatbots in recent years.

AI-powered voice assistants leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) to comprehend customer queries and deliver responses. They seamlessly integrate into call center software, enabling customers to engage with an AI-driven system rather than a human agent.

Conversational AI, the underlying technology for chatbots, presents an effective and cost-efficient solution for call center automation. Smart live chats, seamlessly embedded in websites or social media, handle up to 80% of routine tasks, ensuring customers receive the required information promptly.

Unlimited analytical capabilities

Language analytics powered by AI in call centers offer the capability to monitor and analyze recorded conversations, pinpointing key phrases, keywords, and specific interactions. Specialized software empowers call centers to evaluate the effectiveness of their agents.

Analytical tools based on Artificial Intelligence can also gauge specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and productivity metrics that align with the call center’s goals and objectives.

AI can utilize predictive analytics to examine customer data and call patterns, predicting call volumes and peak times. Working in conjunction with Workforce Management (WFM) systems in call centers, AI assists in optimizing operator staffing levels and efficiently allocating human resources.

Will the role of “call center operator” become obsolete?

Contrary to the prevailing belief that artificial intelligence could replace call center employees, we’ll outline reasons why such a scenario is implausible.

Emotions and critical thinking

A significant impediment to AI replacing agents in call centers is its difficulty in comprehending intricate requests and formulating responses. While AI systems can adeptly manage straightforward inquiries like order tracking or account details, they struggle with more intricate queries demanding human qualities like empathy, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. This becomes particularly apparent in situations where customers undergo emotional stress, such as billing discrepancies or service disruptions.

Empathy and problem-solving skills

In the contemporary landscape, possessing soft skills is pivotal for ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Despite significant advancements in AI, it still falls short of replicating the empathetic capabilities inherent in human interactions. Agents possess the ability to gauge a customer’s emotional state and respond with empathy, providing support and understanding when necessary.

Furthermore, the logical approach employed by artificial intelligence in problem-solving doesn’t always align with the unpredictable and nuanced nature of human behavior. While AI can swiftly provide answers based on programmed data and instructions, it lacks the capacity to handle tasks associated with the often irrational or illogical actions of humans.

AI doesn’t always provide accurate answers

The effectiveness of artificial intelligence algorithms hinges on the quality of the data they are trained on. If an AI system isn’t adequately trained to discern and comprehend the subtleties in customer queries, it may yield irrelevant or inaccurate responses, resulting in customer dissatisfaction.

While AI excels at managing straightforward requests, it encounters challenges with more intricate scenarios that necessitate human intervention. For example, AI may struggle to offer unconventional solutions or process requests requiring intuitive understanding or human judgment.

Implementing AI in a call center comes at a high cost

While it might seem paradoxical, the reality is that, much like any other investment, implementing AI in a call center requires substantial expenditure. The costs vary and depend on several factors:

  • The type of solution.
  • The size and complexity of the project.
  • Necessary resources (equipment, software, personnel, GPU servers).
  • Support and maintenance.
  • Staff training.

Despite the initial expenses, incorporating AI into a call center can deliver considerable returns on investment by improving efficiency, cutting costs, and enhancing service quality. However, it’s essential to recognize that integrating AI into the existing call center infrastructure can be a complex undertaking, necessitating significant changes in current processes. This process may consume considerable time and resources, and if not executed properly, it could result in service disruptions and customer dissatisfaction.

Artificial Intelligence in call centers: key takeaways

The call center industry is experiencing a technological revolution, with artificial intelligence at the forefront of this transformation. Call centers backed by AI utilize automation and machine learning to improve customer service quality, cut costs, and boost efficiency.

Will AI take over call center jobs? In short, no. Instead, it will enhance the capabilities of employees, making their work more effective.

AI can support agents in delivering personalized service by providing real-time information about interaction history and customer data. This enables agents to customize their responses, address issues promptly, and provide an optimal customer experience.

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Фахівець з маркетингу компанії Global Bilgi
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