GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
That title is a bold statement in a world where AI, ChatGPT and other technologies are doing many tasks that employees have typically performed. Sometimes, the technologies perform even better.
Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs economists predicted that generative AI tools could impact 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, which could lead to a significant disruption in the job market. That is a lot of jobs, but it’s important to note that the word used was “disrupt,” not “eliminate.” According to Statista, there are approximately 3.32 billion workers in the world. At first, one might think that 300 million is just 10% of the 3.32 billion workers on the planet, but consider some of these jobs fall under the labor category and won’t be impacted at the level other jobs are.
While it may appear to be doom and gloom for many employees, I have a rosier outlook. I’m not so naïve to think AI won’t eliminate any jobs. Of course, there will be some elimination, but perhaps we should be more focused on the word “displacement” when discussing AI’s impact. If you look at trends in business, it’s very typical that as one product becomes obsolete, another product resurfaces and replaces lost jobs. For example, the vinyl record industry lost out to 8-track tapes, which were eventually replaced by cassette tapes, followed by CDs, which now are being replaced by streaming services. In the music industry, the jobs shifted to new products, or people found similar work in other industries.
As new technologies like AI and ChatGPT increase in capability, employees must be flexible, learn new skills and be willing to go where the jobs are available. One of the big areas of concern is the customer service and support world.
Almost everyone has experienced a digital self-service customer support tool like a chatbot or interactive voice response system. My annual customer experience research found that just 31% of customers prefer using these self-service digital customer support solutions. The phone still continues to be the No. 1 preferred method of communication.
I had the opportunity to collaborate with Capterra on its recent CX survey to understand how companies are investing in technology that drives a better customer experience. The Capterra 2023 CX Investments Survey was conducted in June 2023 to explore CX strategies and investment decisions at U.S. businesses with 5,000 or fewer employees with respondents being decision-makers at the manager level. When we asked about the impact AI has on increasing or decreasing CX staff, here’s what we found:
- 63% of companies have increased staff.
- 28% indicate no change.
- Just 9% of have reduced staff as a result of AI.
With all the hyperbole surrounding the elimination of jobs in the customer support world, only 9% of companies have reduced staff, far from eliminating all staff. In fact, the majority of companies increased staff. What AI and other technologies are doing in the customer support world is taking care of lower-level questions and problems that simply require automated responses, allowing agents to focus on bigger, more complicated issues.
As an example, it was in the 1990s when airlines started selling tickets online. Before that, the only way to purchase a ticket was to call and make a reservation or go to the airport. In just a few years, almost all airlines were going digital. The customer service agents, also known as reservationists, feared for their jobs. While the shift to passengers booking their own tickets reduced the demand for traditional travel and reservation agents, new jobs were created in the airline industry. More employees were needed to manage and maintain online booking platforms and to support passengers with problems or more complicated travel itineraries. Furthermore, the convenience and accessibility of online reservations made air travel more accessible to more people, allowing airlines to expand their operations, and in turn, hire more customer service agents and other employees important to the overall passenger experience.
The airline example is similar to many other industries. Undoubtedly, AI eliminates some jobs, especially those requiring low cognitive skills, but it also creates new jobs due to the need for people to develop, maintain and improve new technologies. And consider that new industries will be discovered and developed because of more advanced technologies. They will need workers.
The point of all this goes back to the title of this article. AI will not eliminate jobs—but it will change the job market. Just as some people see a glass of water as half-full or half-empty, you can decide if AI will create scary or exciting times.
Image Credits: Shep Hyken
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