The Power of Generative AI: Unlocking Skills & Enhancing Employee Performance

Category Artificial Intelligence

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A study from Stanford and MIT found that using a generative AI as part of their day-to-day job improved customer service agents' hourly performance, capabilities and patience and the least-skilled and shorter-term employees benefitted the most from the AI's help.

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Since OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT last November, the buzz around generative AI has been steadily ramping up. Some are excited about its potential to transform the way we work, create, and live, while others are wary of the dangers it poses and the nefarious ways it can be used. We know that programs like Midjourney, DALL-E, and GPT-4 are enabling millions of people to generate images and text, but not many studies have dug into the impact these tools are having, be it positive or negative.

Generative AI is predicted to accelerate economic growth worldwide

One such study was released this month. Titled "Generative AI at Work," the paper, by teams from Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of the first times researchers take a microscope to the way generative AI is actually affecting peoples’ jobs.

The study followed 5,179 customer service agents at a large software firm (whose name wasn’t disclosed) over the course of a year. The employees, mostly based in the Philippines, were split into two groups; one was given access to an AI whose help they could choose to integrate into their work, while the other continued as usual.

The AI used in the study greatly improved customer satisfaction with agents

The AI was trained on data from over 5,000 successful customer service interactions, likely in the form of recordings of high-performing employees having conversations with customers and resolving their issues. The AI then monitored customer interactions in real time and gave agents suggestions of what to say. The employees could choose to use the suggestions word for word, dismiss them altogether, or use a tweaked version.

AI Assistant can communicate with customers in multiple languages

The researchers looked at how long it took for agents to solve customers’ issues and how successfully they did so. The results? Good things all around.

For one, the AI enabled customer service agents to get through calls more quickly, resolve more customer complaints successfully, and even handle multiple customer calls at once. The agents using the AI resolved 13.8 percent more issues per hour than they’d been able to without the AI.

AI Assistant could readily detect when customers were beginning to get frustrated

And that’s not all. Since the AI’s suggestions skewed towards helping agents be patient and empathetic with frustrated customers, the customers treated the agents better, losing their tempers and raising their voices less (it’s not pretty, but let’s be honest, we’ve all been there). As a result, the agents were happier and more satisfied with their work.

--- Closing the Skills Gap? --- .

Perhaps not surprisingly, the AI was the most helpful for the least-skilled workers and those who had been with the company for the shortest time. Meanwhile, the highest-skilled and most experienced agents didn’t benefit much from using the AI. This makes sense, since the tool was trained on conversations from these workers; they already know what they’re doing.

Agents who had more experience with the AI assistant saw increased engagement and confidence in their conversations with customers

"High-skilled workers may have less to gain from AI assistance precisely because AI recommendations capture the knowledge embodied in their own behaviors," said study author Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab.

The AI enabled employees with only two months of experience to perform as well as those who’d been in their roles for six months. That’s some serious skill acceleration. But is it "cheat sheet" learning? .

Generative AI is making human-like intelligence more accessible than ever before

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