As AI Eats Jobs, Agents Are More Valued

Great customer service is not just about cutting costs or making operations more efficient. Instead, it’s a systematic reinvention of established technology, data, and operations — leveraging automation, data, and agents together to exploit each of their unique strengths.

  • Trend 1: AI upends customer service operations. Automation and AI help agents complete repetitive, predictable tasks — or take over those tasks completely and interact with customers autonomously to add value. They allow organizations to manage the ballooning volumes of interactions across an increasing number of channels without increasing agent headcount. The result? Agents are no longer essential to scale.
  • Trend 2: Agent work changes. AI handles routine tasks, with agents dedicated to exceptions and escalations. Contact center jobs will change along four dimensions: 1) Agents who are generalists will see their jobs subsumed by self-service technologies. 2) Midtier agents will be repurposed as authors or testers of content or chatbot dialogues. They may also supervise chatbots and address failures. 3) New superagents will emerge. Customer service organizations will become high-touch centers that handle critical customer interactions, which will require deep subject-matter expertise or product ecosystem expertise. 4) New contact center jobs will be created; for example, data scientists, automation specialists, and application developers. These personnel will be responsible for implementing and maintaining self-service and agent-facing automation and AI initiatives.
  • Trend 3: Agent work becomes more valued. Agent-assisted inquiries take longer to resolve and require skilled agent resources to solve the issue and temper customer frustration. It’s increasingly important to get these interactions right. Why? Agent interactions offer rare moments to connect with customers and nurture relationships. Customer service pros must make these human moments matter. They must empower agents with the right agent workspaces, data, and processes to better understand, support, and emotionally connect with customers.

Read my 2019 trends report for more thoughts about these trends.