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AI Won't Replace Human Agents, But Agents Need to Adapt to Working with AI

By Tracey E. Schelmetic September 28, 2023

How will artificial intelligence (AI) change contact center work? Probably not in the way many people anticipate. Despite sensationalist headlines, AI-driven self-service solutions are still capable of very low-level customer support transactions. Human intelligence is still not only required, but critically important to preserving the reputation of the brand.

A recent analysis released by workforce management company Calabrio entitled, “The State of the Contact Center 2023: Activating the Agent of the Future,” highlighted the essential role of hybrid and remote contact center agents, the expected impact of artificial intelligence (AI), and agents’ levels of readiness to act as brand guardians in the face of evolving consumer demands.

To complete the analysis, Calabrio surveyed 400 contact center managers from across 10 countries, four age groups, and six industries. While there is much debate in the market, this report’s response is clear: AI won’t be used to entirely replace agents. In fact, over two-thirds of contact center managers predict an increase in the number of agents over the next decade and believe AI’s greatest promise is its ability to make agents’ jobs easier and more productive.

AI can perform tasks such as making the workflow smoother, collecting information from customers before a human agent takes over and suggesting resources to human agents so they can solve problems that artificial intelligence cannot.

The analysis stressed, however, that managers believe that agents are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AI-fueled future. If contact centers are not giving agents the skills to adapt and develop, they are already falling behind.

“The role of technology, including AI, is poised to gain even greater momentum in the contact center—we’re already seeing customers embrace automation and AI-fueled analytics to maximize their operations,” said Kevin Jones, CEO of Calabrio, in a statement. “But when technology removes a large portion of the administrative tasks from humans, agents will need to adapt to embrace complex customer inquiries and become true brand guardians.”

Edited by Alex Passett
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