AI & Intelligence Augmentation

Will Google Duplex Kill the Call Center?

Here’s why the new AI bot from Google could make a huge difference in terms of customer service.

Source: svt1992 / iStock / Getty

The trend of artificial intelligence (AI) in the realm of customer service doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Google has decided to capitalize on that fact by creating Duplex, automating customer interactions. Google demonstrated Duplex at its I/O developer conference in May by having it place reservations at restaurants for Google Assistant users, and the worldwide Web has been abuzz at the thought of robots replacing humans on a larger scale. While Duplex does identify itself as a robot, it still sounds incredibly lifelike and gives off a sci-fi feel, making some business owners uneasy at the thought of having their call center taken over by a machine.

Google has emphasized that it’s moving slowly with this technology and isn’t close to releasing it on a mass scale in terms of call centers or enterprises. But it could certainly occur in the future, and there are both upsides and downsides when it comes to replacing customer service with AI.

On the Plus Side:

  • A program like Duplex could save customer service agents time and energy, as the robot answers easy, repetitive questions. Agents could then focus on more complicated, complex issues.
  • Duplex could allow companies to hire fewer customer service agents and pour fewer resources into them.
  • Using an AI machine like Duplex could get more customer calls answered in a shorter amount of time.
  • 24/7 hotlines could become more feasible without requiring a night shift for customer service agents.

On the Negative Side:

  • There will always be people who would prefer to talk to a human than a robot.
  • While software improves, there will be questions that can’t be answered by a simple AI machine and will require human intervention.
  • Software can break, go down, or have bugs, frustrating your customers.
  • Customer service agents could lose their jobs as they’re replaced with technology, hurting company culture and morale.

Either way, the introduction of AI technology into a customer service call center would greatly change things. While Google continues to work on improving its technology, you might want to start brainstorming how AI could help, hurt, or hinder your customer service process. Before diving headfirst into AI, try incorporating a simple chat bot program to see how your customers react. At the end of the day, you’ll always need at least a handful of customer service agents to manage difficult issues, interpret conversations, and give your clients the human interaction they’re looking for.