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Is AI a friend or foe for contact centre workers?

There are several commentators sharing some very positive messages around the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs within contact centres. A study from Narrative Science from December talked about two thirds of businesses having implemented AI by the end of next year. Some are suggesting that rather than the increasing use of AI being a threat, the impacts could be more interesting and diverse tasks, greater specialism, potential for higher wages and more job satisfaction as AI tackles the more repetitive and mundane elements.

It’s an important question as AI is set to make a big impact on white collar jobs, especially in banking. I spoke at the Fintech Storm AI Forum in April in London where Arifa Khan shared that the expected impact on UK jobs in the coming years will be a net reduction of five million (seven million to go and two million new ones created) – many of those being in financial services.

In a recent article for Customer Experience Magazine, Clint Oram says that AI implemented well is good for all concerned – the consumer, the business and the staff.

With around third of financial services businesses already implementing AI and (according to Accenture) 79% of banking professionals agreeing it will have a fundamental impact on customer interaction.

Surely it will come down to way that AI is implemented? Automation done well does enhance job roles and removes repetitive tasks but the transition needs to be carefully managed. What I am hearing so far from clients at collectAI is that teams are able to handle more volume and deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction by the AI taking on the less complex parts of the process – and indeed adding more personalisation where it wasn’t economic to add it before.

Whilst the AI runs seamlessly when facing the customer and the technology eliminates human error, it’s when things are more complex, and often when things go wrong, that humans want to deal with real people. One reason is that AI will never mimic a critical component within more complicated situations, which is the ability for humans to empathise. The human element, particularly in areas with an enhanced emotional element that many call centres deal with, will continue to be vital.

As Clint Oram says in the article:

At a time when the quality of the customer experience can be the difference between keeping or losing a consumer, this is where I believe businesses will most benefit from implementing AI into their strategies. The pace of technology shows no sign of waning, but the ‘human touch’ and the role it plays will remain vital to the overall customer experience.