Call center agents to shift gears to avoid AI displacement


A call center agent named Ken Santo Domingo switched jobs and even considered computer school after being replaced by software. This is to cope with the automation wave. Automation nowadays threatens to replace thousands of jobs in the BPO industry.

According to Ken, he used to answer 30 calls from irate customers on a daily basis regarding credit card charges. Then his company automated that process to be able to reduce 90% of the call volume. Ken eventually found another job which caters to travel concerns by answering emails and chats.

Ernesto Pernia, Socioeconomic Planning Sec, encouraged the BPO industry back in January to up-skill as some companies shift towards artificial intelligence. According to Pernia, “In the next 3-5 years it will really be hitting harder. It will be there, it will be a reality, this AI.”

Higher value skills will give Filipino workers a competitive advantage over other BPO destinations. Moreover, these jobs come with higher pays and more secure tenure.

IT and Business Process Outsourcing Association of the Philippines president Rey Untal mentioned that “Contrary to popular belief, the automation of processes is not meant to replace people, it’s supposed to help them.”

Right now BPO companies are collaborating with the government to help call center agents upgrade their skill set to cope with the shift towards artificial intelligence. These skills include healthcare information management, software development, and data analytics.

Sitel COO Craig Raines said that human touch will still be important in call center operations. According to him, “Emotion will be the main added-value. Human touch will be the main differentiator for any company. Based on the trends, we just don’t believe that automation and robotics will eliminate human experience.”

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