Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Call Center Replace Human Agents?

Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) Call Center Replace Human Agents?

Artificial intelligence call center is a method to answer customers’ complaints with the help of generative (LLM) models (such as ChatGPT or Gemini). 

We are living in the age of artificial intelligence. It swept across all the industries, reshaped the business models, and lowered the needs of humans.

With many industries getting reshaped, fortunately or unfortunately, customer support isn’t an anomaly. 

In fact, Mckinsey published a complete study about the economic impact of generative AI on different industries and customer support is one of the most impacted departments out of all the businesses’ functions. 

Mckinsey projections on Artificial intelligence call centers

Source: Mckinsey

These are revolutionary concepts, and whether we accept them or not, it’s our future!

So I often ask myself this question “What does the future of call centers (customer support) look like”. 

To answer this question, I explored the following topics: market of AI call centers, how it can impact the traditional call centers, and if there’s a way to integrate AI with the present call centers solutions.

I also took interviews of random people from different age groups to test if they’d like to talk with the AI bot while facing an issue (technical or normal complaint).

In the end, I have answered if artificial intelligence can replace call centers all the way. 

Cool, let’s dive into it.

Call Center AI Market

The call center AI market is estimated to be $1.9 billion in 2022 and is projected to increase at the rate of $14.6 billion by 2032 with a growth rate of 22.7%.

ACUMEN Projection on artificial intelligence call centers

Source: ACUMEN

The growing trend of the AI call centers is obvious with the facts that it saves the cost of human labor and provides efficient systems to manage tasks.

Large scale businesses are more likely to adopt AI given the vast number of queries they receive every day. Take the example ecommerce where a customer goes through many stages while buying a product  – product information, shipping queries, delivery details, return policies, and many more.

When it comes to handling a large number of queries, business owners have limitations of human labor and time boundaries to deal with them. However, AI comes to the rescue here and it provides us the capability to deal with a large number of customers’ queries.

Further, it can also personalize the experience of a user based on the repeated patterns of a customer. You can also take advantage of the data users leave behind while interacting with the AI models. This can help you to design or revamp your products according to the users’ needs.

Companies Using AI for Customer Service

As I said earlier, with the wide adoption of AI in the business functionalities, customer service isn’t an anomaly. Many of the businesses quickly adopt this technology to boost their productivity and customer response rates.

Following are some of the companies using AI for the customer service:

  1. Airtel: Manages 84% of customers’ calls using automated speech recognition algorithms.
  2. KFC: Developed facial recognition to predict what customers will buy.
  3. Macky: Taking advantage of cognitive AI for helping their customers to navigate the stores.
  4. Airhelp: Making chatbots first point of contact, improving response time by 65%.
  5. Axis Bank: Replacing Alexa devices instead of human chat agents for customer support.

I have listed a few companies, however, there are hundreds of businesses across the globe which have taken advantage of AI in their customer support to reduce the labor costs.

In fact, Garner predicts that AI will reduce the contact center labor costs by $80 billion.

Top 3 Call Center Automation Ideas

While I have listed some of the automation ideas, we need to understand that each business is different and it comes with unique challenges of customer support. 

For example, an ecommerce business will have different requirements of handling customer support than a service based business, so we need to develop a unique automation for each business.

Furthermore, I have listed 3 real-time automation for call centers ideas to take advantage of. 

1. Automated Chatbots

Automated chatbots refers to the pre-recorded messages or calls that interact with the user as their first point of contact. You will find these chatbots mostly while interacting with the banking sector.

Companies mostly try to solve their repeated queries with the help of chatbots, and if these aren’t resolved, it provides an additional option to interact with a human agent.

You can use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in your call centers to automate the repeated tasks and queries.

2. Work Processes Automation

If your agents deal with the customers through multiple channels, it’s suggested to implement workflow automation. It allows the artificial intelligence to recognize the behavior and repeat the patterns on all the defined problems. 

For example, using workflow automation, you can automate email to your clients when the load is due and you don’t need a customer support agent to do this on your behalf.

3. Advance Agent Guidance

If you are dealing in the medical niche or a financial sector, your agents need countless interactions where you have to follow different compliances set by the government. 

Any human agent involved in such kind of queries can cost you high, and is prone to error as well. With automated agent guidance, you can train an AI model to answer all the queries while being HIPPA compliant (medical protocol) or following any other type of protocol.

If you don’t know how to implement these ideas, I have listed the top 5 artificial intelligence software as well.

Top 5 Call Center AI Software

Following are the top 5 AI call centers:

Software FeatureCost
HubspotConversion Conversation intelligence$20 per month
FreshworksAutomated AI Call Center Agent$35 per agent per month
RingcentralAutomated Call Agents$30 per month
Nextiva Automated Agents + Reports$30.95 per month
TalkdeskCustomer Service Automation$75 per month

Each of the software comes with its own pros and cons, I’d suggest running a free trial first and if that fits your requirements then you should pursue to buy one.

9 Best Help Desk Software

Can AI Replace Customer Support?

No, artificial intelligence can not replace humans all together, rather it’s an optimized solution for the customer where you can manage the same routine tasks with less need of human labor.

For example, in the above section where I have listed companies that have implemented AI in their customer support, none of them have actually fired all of their labor force from the support staff.

Yes, it definitely has made us less dependent on the human labor, but it hasn’t replaced human agent at all.

In the coming section, I have talked about why AI can not replace humans in customer support. Further, I have talked about finding a middle ground of integrating AI chatbots and human chat agents.

Why AI Chatbots Can Not Replace Customer Support?

Bad Customer Experience

Psychological studies show that interaction with another is not just limited to the words, rather it goes beyond. It involves empathy and the exchange of emotions between the people. 

AI chatbots can definitely provide answers to the customer’s complaints, but it badly impacts the experience of a customer. A person does not feel connected to the brand and leaves a bad experience of a brand.

Complex Queries

While AI can solve a lot of problems, some queries are actually complex and need problem solving where a human agent has to jump in and handle the task.

Data Sensitivity 

Since a lot of private information appears while handling the queries of a user, using a third party AI integration can put the companies at the risk of leaking important details.

For example, if you are operating inside the banking sector, a lot of people come forward having an issue with the credit card and other sensitive matters. Now imagine this information getting used by a third-party software. 

Or maybe you operate in a business and a lot of your private financial details get used by a third party software.

In fact, Avast faced a $16.5m fine for selling users’ data unlawfully.

Emotional Support

There are times when a query doesn’t get solved or maybe a customer demands something that’s not within your access to solve, then showing an empathy to a user may result in lessening the pain or resentment. 

Nobody just appreciates the words, human touch can actually do wonders while facing such issues.

Building Trust

Good customer experience builds trust, and none of AI chat-agents can do this. Like I have mentioned above, I can also tell you from my personal experience of handling customers’ queries that people who talked with a human agent felt more satisfied than talking to an AI agent. 

Plus, in addition to building trust, handling a customer with a human agent also gives us the flexibility to upsell and increase the revenue.

Solution to Bad Customer Experience With AI Chatbots

We made two conclusions by analyzing different trends and opinions that 1) AI saves costs 2) human touch is necessary.

So, the solution comes with the following equation where AI bots can take the responsibility of handling the routine tasks and human agent jumping to solve the complex queries.

But there’s another solution to it. When you start to implement the AI agents inside your existing customer support, you may tend to make a lot of mistakes while deploying everything and finding a balance between both of them (AI + human).

I’d advise you to outsource your customer support to HiredSupport that starts from $7/h for human agents.

Reduce 80% of Your Support Costs

It will save cost on the AI agents, zero mistakes, perfect balance, and can also reduce cost on the minimum labor that you may need to hire.

Still unsure, cool, you can run a free trial with HiredSupport where it will audit your existing customer support department and will let you know how they can improve your customer satisfaction score.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Mostly the AI is used with the help of LLM (i.e, ChatGPT or Gemini) models and it tries to replicate the human agents. Currently, it’s an effective model to answer the repeated queries, but companies still keep human agents as a backup for if AI doesn’t work as expected.

PhoneCallGPT.com and Google Duplex are some of the options that mimic human voice to call on your behalf. However, they are not as effective as a human agent performs.

The speed at which AI models are coming in and getting updated, we can make a point that AI may take over on call centers. There will be less dependency on humans, but I think replacing them completely wouldn’t be an option.

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