Has Klarna’s AI Killed The Outsourcing Industry?

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Klarna’s AI Wizardry

Financial services company Klarna claims that its new AI-powered chatbot does the work of 700 full-time agents. In its first month, the chatbot handled 2.3 million conversations, or two-thirds of Klarna’s total customer service inquiries.

Panic ensued, stocks dropped, and discussions on how AI would replace humans continued. Specifically, the stock of Teleperformance, a well-known call center giant, cratered, dropping 19%, a seven-year low, after Klarna disclosed the capabilities of its chatbot. 

The market assumed that if Klarna could replace its customer service function, the outsourcing industry writ large would be doomed. The stock is still down 39% from its one-month peak.

Fast-moving world

The truth is that AI will impact every industry, not just call centers and agents. But as the adage goes, “When one door closes, another door opens.” In this day and age, a pack of hungry entrepreneurs with their startup ideas will be waiting to rush through that door.

As we’ve seen in the development of smartphones, companies will eventually catch up and make a better and cheaper version of the prototype. Other firms will figure out how Klarna did it, and over time, the world will have an affordable AI buffet on the table.

The call centers will evolve. In fact, call centers are some of the earliest adopters of AI technologies, in a bit to optimize their processes. This is evolution.

The reality is that many functions within a call center will perish, just as jobs across the globe become obsolete with time and technology. However, new roles emerge, and this time they will be roles that are augmented and optimized by a suite of AI tools.

Global employment will persist

The proposition that the future will have more robots and fewer office chairs is grim. However, it’s more likely there’s a future where humans and AI can coexist harmoniously.

AI can only accomplish menial and repetitive tasks. So far. Occasionally, an experienced human agent would need to turn a knob or take over for unique queries.

Even if AI becomes sophisticated, there will be plenty of complex jobs available offshore, such as accountants, designers, developers, social media specialists, and many more. Along with AI, these are the professions that will help the entrepreneur succeed.

A globalized economy has made these roles accessible through offshore staffing. A vast talent pool is available at great prices. While the experienced offshore staff handles the back-office tasks, the startup can focus on core competencies to grow the business. 

Over time, AI will continue to improve and become more affordable. A highly skilled offshore staff will always be there to provide that ‘human touch.’

Eventually, entrepreneurs will realize that those cost savings are just a bonus. They’ve developed a formidable relationship with the offshore staff, something they can’t say with AI and robots. 

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Outsource Accelerator is the trusted source of independent information, advisory and expert implementation of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.