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Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the whole world by storm. The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is among the industries that have begun leveraging AI technology.
Robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML), conversational AI, and generative AI prove beneficial in BPO call centers. They help automate processes, analyze data, assist customers, offer self-service options, and generate content.
With all these amazing features and benefits, can AI replace call center agents? That is what we are going to find out in this article.
Read on to debunk some myths and discover the combined truths about AI and BPO.
Can AI Replace BPO Call Center Agents?
The direct response is no. AI technology can assume certain BPO responsibilities currently handled by contact center agents, but it cannot entirely supplant these agents. Here’s the rationale behind this:
- Most customers seek human touch and connections. Most customers actively seek the human touch and the connections it brings. Engaging with live customer service representatives, salespeople, or help desk agents offers a level of personability, empathy, and warmth that AI cannot replicate. The art of active listening and paraphrasing, as well as genuine empathy and kindness, remains a unique human domain.
- AI still has a lot of limitations. AI is not capable of pursuing human-like conversations vital to call center operations. In customer service, AI-powered chatbots answer basic inquiries, while interactive voice response (IVR) systems process simple requests. However, humans are best at handling complex issues and requests.
- AI is prone to errors. Can AI truly replace call center agents? Given its inherent nature and constraints, AI falls short of replacing humans. Its inability to fully grasp the nuances of customer inquiries and requests can lead to occasional incorrect responses and inappropriate solutions, resulting in customer dissatisfaction.
- Integrating AI technology can be costly. Businesses typically outsource to BPO firms with the primary objective of cost reduction. However, collaborating with a service provider that has fully integrated AI technology into its call center operations can be costly. This expenditure can counteract the initial purpose of outsourcing: to save money.
Understanding what BPO is and how AI can help is crucial. This technology can digitally transform and radically change the BPO landscape, particularly in the contact center industry. But one thing’s certain: AI cannot completely replace humans but can supplement them.
In the next section, learn how AI technology can aid the BPO call center industry.
How Can AI Help BPO Call Centers Instead?
AI can help BPO call centers in more ways than one. This technology can empower agents and customers, improve front-office and back-end operations, and enhance customer experience and satisfaction.
AI technology is beneficial to various industries, the BPO sector included. That is why its market growth shows no signs of slowing down. Its global market size could grow from $196.63 billion in 2023 to $1,811.75 billion by 2030 at a 37.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
The BPO industry is at the forefront of leveraging AI technology. To dig in further, here are a few ways it can help BPO call centers:
- AI empowers call center agents. With contact features such as automatic dialing, automated screen pops, caller authentication, and intelligent routing, BPO agents have become more efficient and productive. They do not need to perform specific tasks manually, and they can assist customers more efficiently.
- AI reduces call center workload. Can AI replace call center agents? No, but it can take over some BPO jobs and reduce agents’ workloads. For instance, AI technology can handle repetitive tasks of lesser value, allowing agents to focus on their core functions.
- AI empowers customers. It offers self-service options such as IVR systems, AI-powered chatbots, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and knowledge base centers. Call centers can seamlessly transition to contact centers, offering multiple communication channels and self-service portals.
- AI improves back-end processes. Front-office functions in call centers include customer service, sales, and technical support. However, back-office functions such as call recording, agent monitoring, data analysis, volume forecasting, and business reporting are critical to successful call center operations.
Gartner predicts the global expenditure on conversational AI solutions within contact centers might reach $1.99 billion in 2022. This means that more and more BPO firms are investing in AI technology. Now, you might ask:
- Is chatbot technology a threat to the BPO industry?
- Will conversational AI take over jobs?
- Can AI replace call center agents?
With all the advantages above, businesses can deem AI an ally, not a foe. AI can be a great addition to a BPO call center to empower agents, scale operations, and achieve customer satisfaction. Businesses of all sizes should consider outsourcing to BPO firms that capitalize on AI.
Why Combining Human Agents and AI Tools Is Best for Your BPO Call Center
Employing BPO agents and AI tools can maximize your call center operations. Combining the two can improve your services, satisfy your customers, and boost your cash flow. However, there is more to these benefits than meets the eye.
Let us dig in further below.
- They streamline workflows and processes. RPA can handle non-core tasks and accelerate processes while agents focus on core operations and customer satisfaction.
- They boost efficiency and productivity. The perfect combination of BPO agents and AI can make your call center operations more efficient and productive.
- They ensure data accuracy and service quality. Can AI replace call center agents? Not necessarily! AI can automate many tasks and processes; however, agents must double-check data accuracy and ensure service.
- They enhance the customer experience. BPO agents can handle front-office functions via phone calls, such as customer support, telemarketing, and the help desk. However, AI offers self-service options for an enhanced customer experience.
- They decrease expenditures and increase income. Combining AI and humans can help boost your profits. At the same time, outsourcing can help you save money in the long term. According to Gartner, AI deployment in call centers can cut labor costs by $80 billion in 2026.
The Bottom Line
Back to the the original question: Can AI replace call center agents? The straightforward answer is no. Since AI has certain limitations, humans are still best suited for contact center operations.
AI technology can aid BPO agents and optimize call center operations. As explained above, it can empower employees, reduce workload, satisfy customers, and improve back-end functions. The best approach for your call center operations is to combine BPO agents and AI tools.
Ready to harness AI power for your call center operations? Unity Communications has what it takes to scale your business with its modern technology and expert workforce. Let’s connect today to get started with your BPO call center!