AI predicted to reduce the need for call centres

Indian IT giant predicts less need for call centres. | Newsreel
The head of a giant Indian IT company says there will be less need for call centres within a year. | Photo: iStock

The head of a large Indian IT company has predicted that advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will vastly reduce the need for call centres within a year.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Chief Executive K Krithivasan told the Financial Times chatbots would soon be able to analyse a customer’s transaction history and do much of the work currently performed by call centre employees.

“In an ideal phase, if you ask me, there should be very minimal incoming call centres having incoming calls at all,” he told the publication. “That’s where we are going…I don’t think we are there today – maybe a year or so down the line.”

TCS is an arm of India’s Tata corporation that helps multinationals to develop their IT systems. It has more than 600,000 employees and annual revenues of nearly $30 billion.

The impact of AI on call centres has moved sharply into focus with the onset of improved AI systems over recent years.

In India alone, more than five million people work in IT and business processing outsourcing.

A 2023 report by the US National Bureau of Economic Research found that access to AI tools in call centres increased the number of issues resolved per hour by 14 percent on average.

This included a 34 percent improvement for novice and low-skilled workers, but a much lower impact for more skilled and experienced workers.

“In addition, we find that AI assistance improves customer sentiment, increases employee retention, and may lead to worker learning,” the research report said.

“Our results suggest that access to generative AI can increase productivity, with large heterogeneity in effects across workers.”

The research tracked more than 5000 agents working for Fortune 500 firms.

According to Australian Government Labour Market Insights data, Australia has 33,600 people employed in call centres in 2021. Numbers change on an annual basis, but the 2021 numbers were similar to a decade earlier.