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AI’s Impact on Contact Center Staffing – The Bittersweet Update


A person clicking on a contact center application
Image: NicoElNino -

One of the biggest selling points of artificial intelligence (AI) is cost savings—and that savings involves automating functions that humans previously handled. In the contact center, AI cost savings translates into compensation reduction, as agents become more efficient with interactions that aren’t handled independently by bots or self-service.

AI’s impact on staffing affects new hires and existing employees—in both negative and positive ways, depending on your position. In Metrigy’s AI for Business Success 2024-25 global research study of 697 companies, we have found the following:

  • New hires – More than half of companies (55.7%) reduced the number of new agents they needed to hire. The numbers are substantial: Those who did not use AI in calendar year 2023 hired 89% more agents than those who did use AI in their contact center.
  • Existing employees – When AI is added to the contact center, 36.8% of companies laid off an average of 24.1% of their employees.

For business leaders looking for technology to drive cost efficiencies, AI is doing its job. For example, average handle time dropped by an average of 29.5% with the addition of agent assist, while each supervisor saves nearly two hours per week when AI helps with scheduling and capacity planning.

In addition to making agents and supervisors more efficient, AI-enabled self-service also is automating customer interactions so fewer even require live agent attention.

More than 80% of companies are increasing their AI spending in 2024, and the top reason, cited by 75.4% of those companies, is that they recognize the efficiencies AI brings. They’re investing in the technology—a move that is reducing total compensation for 37.8% of companies. That means lost jobs and fewer new hires in the contact center for many companies.


Filling the Staffing Gap

But not all are reducing their contact center staffs: 36% of our research study participants say they are experiencing a shortage of contact center agents. Of that group, 64.4% cited company growth as the top cause, followed by inability to find the right people (40%), difficulty retaining existing staff (35%), and lack of budget to hire enough people (24.4%). When asked whether AI was helping them fill the gap between company growth and lack of agents to handle that growth, 84.2% says yes.

These companies are using AI to boost efficiency of agents they do have on staff; onboard new agents faster by using AI-powered training sprints throughout the first few months of work; and increase fully automated customer interactions.


Newly Created Positions

AI is filling gaps for companies that are challenged to find enough contact center workers, and it’s also creating new jobs in other departments. More than half of companies are increasing the number of data analysts, security analysts, programmers, data scientists, and content managers, according to our research. (We expect to see prompt engineering—the art and science of essentially programming prompts effectively to get the best possible response from generative AI—emerge in our next study.)

CX leaders interviewed for this study were aligned at shifting existing agents, whose job is being replaced by AI, to new roles. The most prevalent is content management. After all, agents know the company, its products and services, its customers, and pricing. So, they are well-positioned to manage the content in a knowledge base being used by generative and other types of AI. More than half of companies also have humans helping to manage bots to keep them on track when they are stuck in a loop or not providing the right answers. I’ll be talking more about this topic with a stellar panel of experts at Enterprise Connect in Orland on March 25 in the session “Job Shifting: Where and How is AI Eliminating and Adding Positions?”

Like any industrial or technology revolution, some types of jobs disappear completely or are reduced, while others emerge or are increased. It’s up to today’s business and technology professionals to mentor high school and college students to guide them to the careers that will see those increases in the era of AI. At the same time, they also must guide their existing employees to become better at sales, reading quickly, creating or managing content, and prompt engineering, to name a few.

Robin Gareiss will be in the session Job Shifting: Where and How is AI Eliminating and Adding Positions on Monday, March 25 at 8 am EST . See you there!

Enterprise Connect 2024 will be held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, FL, from March 25-28. Preview the conference schedule or register to attend. To keep on top of all Enterprise Connect developments, subscribe to the weekly newsletter.