MARKS AND SPENCER is set to ditch call centre staff in favour of an AI-powered chatbot, according to reports.
The move will affect 100 staff at 13 sites around the UK.
Twillo, the company that makes the chatbot, will also deploy it at Marksies's 640 UK stores, though we're not entirely sure what for. We kind of hope it's for voice controlled mobility scooters.
M&S has always been considered a desirable place to work, and in recent months has actually been training staff on digital skills, in recognition of the changes in retail.
Staff can even sign up for longer courses in Python and AI, though we're not sure what use that's going to be on a checkout, though the company has been partnering with Microsoft to bring AI into the company along with digital transformation powered by specialist firm True.
Twillo claims it has a 90 per cent success rate at understanding and connecting calls. In a statement, the company said: "The M&S solution is able to handle more than one million inbound telephone calls per month, transcribe the customer's speech into text in real time, determine caller intent based on the transcribed text and then route the call to the appropriate department"
Earlier this year Google confirmed that its Duplex voice chatbot could be used to power call centres in the future.
Our slight concern is that with M&S still attracting a large number of the blue-rinse brigade, it may alienate these older customers if they have to explain that they've found a ladder in their twin set.
An old woman said: "Eh? What's that? Press what? Whose call is important? Listen here young lady, I remember when this store was just a stall on Leeds Market. Hello? Hello? I know your Dad…. "
The company which is, along with the rest of the retail sector, tightening its belt, has said that customer service staff will be redeployed in stores, offering face to face customer service. Presumably teaching old biddies how to call the helpline. μ
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