Just a few weeks ago, The Guardian published an article saying the rise of robots threatens to terminate the UK call-centre workforce. But is AI the threat to people’s jobs many believe it is?
AI isn’t the problem. But it highlights one.
In reality, the human call centre is far from perfect. How many times have you phoned a company with a quick question, only to be stuck in a queue or on hold for 15 minutes? Or maybe you were put through to someone who’s answered the same question 150 times already that day, and responds like they might as well be a robot?
It isn’t AI or humans. It’s AI plus humans.
We think AI is a great opportunity to champion more fulfilling and varied jobs for everyone.
Unlike a human call-centre worker, a chatbot can hold multiple, simultaneous conversations with several different customers. That means goodbye terrible hold music, hello instant customer service. At ebi.ai, we’ve trained all kinds of chatbots to handle straightforward enquiries over the phone, web chat, messaging platforms, apps and voice assistants. A call centre would have to employ an impossible number of people to service their customers in this way as efficiently as AI.
Meanwhile, more detailed queries like ‘my wife has lost her earrings on the ferry’ can go to a person – freed up by bots to answer helpfully, patiently and empathetically. Humans have empathy. We know what it’s like to be frustrated. We can reason and listen.
Something even the best bot in the world can’t do.
Employees benefit from AI as much as customers
It isn’t just customers who see the benefit of AI in call centres. The people who work there do, too. Introducing bots reduces mind-numbing tasks like regurgitating scripts and answering the same questions over and over again. Instead, employees can concentrate on more fulfilling work that requires their unique human capacity to be creative, caring or clever.
AI doesn’t reduce job opportunities. It generates them.
As AI takes on more and more repetitive jobs, the people who were doing them can move into other areas of the business or in new industries. They aren’t left unemployed. For example, at ebi.ai we hire AI writers and AI editors. These people help with the structure of chatbot conversations and the tone they talk in. Often, we look for people who come from call centre backgrounds because their insight is invaluable in creating bots that customers are comfortable interacting with, and brands are comfortable having as the face of their company.
AI is not the rise of robots. It’s the rise of humans.