Why Call Center Jobs Will Disappear

Why Call Center Jobs Will Disappear


Around the world, businesses field hundreds of billions of requests from us each year. We want our flights changed, a purchase refunded, a claim reviewed. That takes the labor of millions of agents who tend to our every need. But soon, automation will
take over much of that, and it starts with the painstaking
work of this 23-year-old. My name is Laura Morales,
and I’m a chatbot designer. You probably know the Dominican Republic for its beaches. But further west in the country’s
capital of Santo Domingo, there’s a bustling hub of call centers for American businesses. Laura works for one of them,
at a company called OutPLEX. After you. Some of OutPLEX’s inquiries are handled by traditional
call center agents over the phone. Others are handled by
contact center agents over live written chat. Last year, the company
introduced a third kind of agent. A bot. Laura oversees bots for
three U.S.-based clients. And these bots greet customers looking for assistance online. The bots resolve simple
queries on their own, and the more complicated questions get escalated to a human representative. Me, as an agent, I used to
take three conversations, or just one call at the time. With bots, you don’t have that limitation. Alexa, will I need an umbrella tomorrow? It might rain tomorrow. There’s a 54% chance. Bots today are everywhere. And so the people who design their speech are in high demand. The job is kinda like writing
a very dry screenplay, with a choose your own adventure element for the many ways customers will respond. The hard part comes
once the bot goes live. Can you go to the metrics hub over there? Often, its pre-scripted conversations don’t work out the way Laura
and her team hope they would, so they’re constantly tinkering. The way to start a day with the bots. I need to check how the bots
did on the previous day. So, I go into analytics, and my favorite one is this. It’s the unmatched phrases. These are the moments
when the bot didn’t know what the customer wanted. Exactly. And I can also see how
many clients or visitors clicked on the first
button or the second button on the main menu. So, if my visitors are not
interacting with my menus, that means that maybe
something’s not right. So, it’s interesting ’cause
you used to be coaching the human agents, and now
you’re coaching a robot. Is that easier or harder? It’s easier. You don’t have to worry about
hurting a bot’s feelings. You’re not emotional about it. You’re just doing what you need to do for getting the results you want. Laura grew up hearing
all about the industry. Laura started out as an entry-level agent when she was 17, and worked her way up. Last year, she was chosen
to manage her company’s first interactive chatbot. And today makes about $8 an hour, which is four times what she earned when she first became an agent. The transition to work on chatbots took about three months to learn
various aspects of the job, including training on special software that doesn’t require her to code. Laura immediately saw the benefits. A bot is never late. A bot doesn’t get sick or pregnant. Those are specific human
situations that you can’t fight. Automation is able to take that out. But her mom had some hesitations. For now, the introduction of the bots hasn’t led to any layoffs. Because they’ve helped
OutPLEX win more business, the company has actually
hired more human agents to handle the inquiries that
get escalated from the bots. But as the technology gets better, it’s hard not to worry about
how this is all gonna play out. And that was a conversation that required some strong Dominican rum. Eventually, surely we will need fewer human call center
agents than we do now. Automation is a reality. And the skill set that you will need to work in this industry, it’s going to be different
from the regular agents you have today. I do believe it will get more technical. It will not be dealing
with a customer anymore. It will be monitoring the software. And if you don’t adapt, you
will need to do something else. Is there a small part
of you that feels guilty for automating away the job that gave you your start in your career and is the job of a lot of
your colleagues right now. Not at all. Like, zero guilt. Zero guilt? Yeah. Zero hesitation? It’s happening already. You might as well be a part of it. Thank God I’m part of it. Whether you’re a grocer, doctor, factory worker, or journalist, all of our jobs will soon
be reshaped by automation. Some will benefit from the
new work that will emerge, and others will watch their jobs disappear with no clear path to another livelihood. Managing this transition will
be the defining challenge for us in the decades ahead. And we need to be ready for it.