AI will reduce contact center labor costs by $80 billion by 2026


Deploying conversational artificial intelligence (AI) in contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion by 2026, according to analyst firm Gartner, which also said end-user spending on conversational AI solutions in contact centers in the Expected to reach $1.99 billion by 2022 However, the fragmented vendor landscape and complexity of deployments will result in lower adoption over the next two years, it said.

Conversational AI combines natural language processing, machine learning, and other related algorithms with traditional software like chatbots and voice assistants to engage users in human-like conversations.

“Implementing conversational AI requires expensive professional resources in areas such as data analysis, knowledge graphs and natural language understanding,” said Daniel O’Connell, VP Analyst at Gartner.


Complex, large-scale conversational AI deployments can take several years as more callflows are built and existing callflows are fine-tuned for improvement. Gartner estimates integration prices at $1,000 to $1,500 per conversational AI agent, although some organizations have cited costs as high as $2,000 per agent. As such, early adoption of conversational AI will be primarily led by organizations with 2,500 or more agents with a budget for the necessary technical resources.

Gartner estimates that there are approximately 17 million contact center agents worldwide today, O’Connell said. “Many businesses face the challenge of agent shortages and a need to reduce labor costs, which can account for up to 95% of contact center costs. Conversational AI makes agents more efficient and effective while improving the customer experience,” he said.

Gartner predicts that by 2026, one in ten agent interactions will be automated, up from an estimated 1.6% of interactions automated using AI today. Conversational AI can automate all or part of the customer interaction in a contact center across both voice and digital channels, via voicebots or chatbots, and is expected to have transformative benefits for customer service and support organizations within two years .


The sophistication of bots and thus their artificial intelligence capabilities in dialogue are largely determined by the sophistication of the artificial intelligence deployed.

Big tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple are working hard to democratize advanced AI so companies can leverage its capabilities to introduce ever more complex experiences.

“The current chatbots on the market already capture bits of information like customer name, policy number and reason for the call, and this itself could cut up to a third of the interaction time that would normally be assisted by a human agent,” O’Connell said, adding that “Once built, conversational AI capabilities need to be continually supported, updated, and maintained, leading to additional costs.”


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