Five years ago, experts predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) would replace up to 30% of the global human workforce by 2030. They claimed the shift would be reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution, when societies replaced manual labor with machinery better suited for the job.

Well, the organizations that adopted AI over the past half-decade have weighed in… and it turns out their headcount is actually on the rise. In fact, the teams who leverage AI seem to grow at a faster rate than teams without AI solutions.

So, how does this latest revelation stack up against fears that AI will replace contact center agents? We’ll let the data do the talking to debunk that myth once and for all.

Rate of AI Adoption Skyrockets Among Contact Centers

Contact centers have long relied on basic iterations of artificial intelligence, like predictive call routing, to quickly dispatch customer queries to the most appropriate department. Over the years, AI technology has evolved to encompass machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) applications that have completely redefined its role in the contact center.

Artificial intelligence now handles the repetitive, trivial queries that clog call volume by automating a portion (or all) to IVRs, chatbots, and other self-service technologies. This reduces the call volume to live agents and also allows them more time to handle more sophisticated topics. In other words, AI relieves agents of time spent on minor requests, so they can have more productive conversations.

This allure has proven strong among the contact center industry. In fact, approximately 52% of contact centers have an active AI strategy and another 30% have one in the works. For some contact centers, AI has taken the shape of real-time guidance for representatives. For others, AI has helped close the gap between the number of calls completed each day and the amount reviewed for QA.

Combined, more than 80% of contact centers across the globe now plan to use AI to streamline success. According to contact center operators who have implemented AI, approximately 60% sought to improve customer satisfaction rates and the agent experience through the technology. Across the board, contact centers use AI to automate agent-driven insights.

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AI-Powered Teams Increase Agent Headcount

With AI technology responsible for minor customer queries in the contact center, it’s easy to assume that a reduction of incoming calls must equal a reduction in individual agents. That could not be farther from the truth. In fact, AI actively enhances agent headcount in the contact center.

Organizations report a 57% increase in headcount for inside sales teams and a 55% increase for outside sales teams that utilize AI, whereas teams not planning on using AI have a 30% decreased headcount on average. Organizations that leverage AI add headcount at a faster pace than their peers, indicating an extension of human capability, not a replacement of it.

Even more, eight in ten company executives actively invest in AI strictly because it can rapidly gather and disseminate key customer information to its agents. The true purpose of AI is to give agents exactly what they need, when they need it for optimal results.

Agents remain the focus, not AI.

“You need to retain [agents] that have that deep knowledge,” explains Jim Rembach, president of Influence to Action. “And you may say, ‘Well, we can just pack all that stuff into AI’ but you still need to have a human being in order to be able to do the interpretation that the AI technology that exists today just can’t do.”

And beyond interpretation, artificial intelligence still cannot rival human emotional intelligence.

“You need a hybrid between digital solutions and human interactions,” adds Mario Baddour, Global Chief Operating Officer of STARTEK. “Emotions are important in certain conversations, especially if you’re purchasing a life insurance policy or negotiating a healthcare bill. I don’t believe any AI in the world today is capable of truly interacting and understanding that level of emotions.”

Discover AI as an Extension of Human Capability in the Contact Center

AI-powered teams expand at a quicker rate than their counterparts without such technology — not because the technology replaces agents, but because it amplifies their abilities. With AI applications, agents are now able to become more productive, enabling better first-call resolution and more satisfied customers that allow operators to scale their teams.

But those aren’t the only benefits of AI in the contact center. Check out the latest e-book, AI Adoption in Contact Centers: The Smart Solution to Elevate Sales, Service, and Simplicity, to learn how AI technology acts as a true extension of human capability in the contact center.

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