However, a study shows that generative AI tools can have a positive impact on workers, particularly those working in the customer service sector.
A working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that access to generative
AI can increase workers’ productivity by 14% on average, as measured by the amount of customer issues the agents were able to resolve per hour.
To conduct the study, the NBER used data from 5,000 customer support agents working for a Fortune 500 software firm.
The agents used a tool built on a recent version of Open AI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) large language model (LLM) to assist them in their roles.
The LLM monitored the customer chats in real time to provide agents with suggestions on how to respond.
This enabled agents to respond more quickly, answer more chats per hour, and more successfully resolve chats, according to the paper.
However, the study found that the increase in productivity disproportionately benefited workers who had less skill and experience.
The AI tools helped fill the experience gap. Workers using AI with two months tenure performed as well as workers with six months tenure who didn’t use AI.
As a result, the study found that high-skill workers don’t have as much to gain from using AI assistance since the AI recommendations are essentially imitating the knowledge the high-skill workers already possess.
In addition to optimizing workers’ productivity, AI can also help improve how workers are treated by customers, reducing the likelihood of calls being escalated to a supervisor.
As a whole, this study provides a real-world example of how AI can be used to positively assist some workers instead of simply replacing them.