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Does Automation and AI Mean the End of the Customer Service Industry?

Theo Priestley


scottish businesses

New study sheds light on the customer service industry, revealing that as new technologies provide greater efficiency firms must retrain staff to deal with more complex problem solving.

In a constant drive for efficiency, customer service and call centre industries have been embracing newer technologies including chatbots and more advanced Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to deal with customer queries but does this mean a decline overall in those sectors?

A new report by Kura and The Director’s Club reveals that a massive 92% of the respondents polled stated their organisations have an ongoing strategy to move low-complexity customer interactions to automated or other self-service channels, indicating that UK companies can no longer afford people-intensive operations to deal with low level problem solving and customer communication.

The research also indicated an increasing appetite for shrinking the contact centre as low complexity interactions are moved to automated channels.

Driving Efficiency Through Automation

The study revealed that a significantly high proportion of respondents in the industry are looking to move first contact customer service to automated means, and re-skill the current workforce to deal with more complex enquiries.

  • 95% hope to deflect high frequency, low complexity enquiries away from person-to-person channels.
  • Nearly half of all respondents (49%) state that they class more than 30% of all customer service enquiries via person-to-person channels as being of “low complexity”.
  • 41% estimate that more than half of customers want and or expect their “low complexity” enquiries to be handled via an automated or self-service channel.
  • A third of respondents forecast that more than 70% of their organisations’ total “low complexity” customer service enquiries will be handled via automated or self-service channels within 3 years

Although the majority (82%) cited that their investment strategies were geared towards automation, one in ten said they were looking at increasing the number of employees in their operations to deal with low level enquiries, suggesting a resistance to the newer technologies in preference of person-to-person contact strategies.

However, with higher automation brings higher skilled employees, with 91% expecting that contact centre agents will have a higher job status compared with today within the next 5 years by dealing with more complex and emotional customer enquiries. With greater responsibility comes greater pay, 75% of respondents felt that customer service staff would receive higher salaries as a result of this.

Theo Priestley

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