Bye, Bye Customer Service and Support Agents. Hello, Generative AI


The Gist

  • Generative AI impact on customer support. Investment in generative AI will lead to a 20%-30% reduction in customer service and support agents by 2026, according to Gartner.  
  • Reskilling for the AI era. To mitigate fears among customer support staff, leaders are urged to share plans on AI integration, its impact on job roles and new opportunities arising.  
  • Effective application of generative AI. Generative AI can be used to automate recurring tasks, resolve low-complexity issues and perform tasks it has been specifically trained for, thereby enhancing the productivity of customer support agents.

When it comes to generative artificial intelligence and jobs, you’re either on one side or the other:

What’s the fate for customer service and support agents, particularly? One analyst firm says, “Yes, generative AI will replace customer support agents.”

Gartner released a prediction this week that found by 2026, investment in generative AI will lead to a 20% to 30% reduction of customer service and support agents. However, the analyst firm added, generative AI at the same time will create new customer service jobs to enable generative AI in customer service and support.

So, some customer support agents jobs will be lost. But they won’t necessarily lose their jobs entirely. New jobs will emerge in customer service thanks to generative AI.

“The hype around workforce reduction needs to be quelled,” Uma Challa, senior director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice, said in a blog post Aug. 3. “Gartner predicts that investment in generative AI will lead to a 20-30% reduction in customer service and support agents by 2026, but not a wholesale shuttering of the live customer service function.”

Customer Service Leaders Must Quell Agent Fears

Phew. If I’m in customer service, that’s a welcome thought. But the prediction still remains — two to three out of 10 customer support agent jobs will be reduced.

What can customer support and customer experience leaders do for a worried, troubled customer support staff that continues to see these headlines and predictions?

Gartner suggests sharing with customer support agents how the organization plans to integrate generative AI to help reps to be more productive, the impact generative AI adoption will have on certain agent activities, how the role will change as a result and the new opportunities that will be created to enable generative AI.

Leaders should also work to “future-proof the workforce” by upskilling and reskilling current employees’ skill sets so customer support representatives can learn to work with generative AI.

Related Article: AI-Enhanced Contact Center Platforms for World-Class Customer Service

Where to Apply Generative AI in Customer Support

How can organizations integrate generative AI successfully into customer service arenas like contact centers?

According to Challa, generative AI can be applied effectively to act as an assistant to service agents in the following ways:

  • Automate recurring tasks
  • Resolve low-complexity issues
  • Perform specific tasks on which the generative AI model is trained

Generative AI works best in customer support when it provides reps with context around the customer, product and interaction as well as guidance on how to best solve the customer’s issue, according to Challa. When technology provides customer support agents with context and guidance, they perform better than those without these capabilities, Challa added.

“Customer service organizations can’t wake up one day and decide to implement generative AI,” Challa said. “Depending on the type of investment, it could take a few months or even a few years to adopt the technology depending on many factors such as access, language model type and risk.”

Related Article: Report: Customer Experience Is the No. 1 Focus for Generative AI Investments

The Balance Between AI and Human Support

Not all are convinced with the 30% customer service and support agent reduction prediction.


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