M&S to replace call centre staff with an AI chatbot

Retailer will reassign 100 employees to in-store roles as it continues digital transformation

M&S sign

Marks and Spencer (M&S) is replacing its call centre staff with artificial intelligence software designed to quickly deal with customer complaints.

The retail giant said that 100 employees who work across its 13 UK call centres will not be losing their jobs and instead will be reassigned to in-store roles, ironically to offer face to face services on the shop floor.

"We know that M&S needs to modernise," said Chris McGrath, IT programme manager at M&S. "We have a lot of backstage resources sitting in switchboards that manually handle these calls. We're getting them away from that backstage onto the shop floor, talking to the customers, as they should be."

The chatbots are powered by cloud communication service Twilio and are set to be in place by the end of September. The technology will also be deployed in 640 M&S stores as well, although it's currently unclear in what capacity it will be used.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Previously, the human operators would transfer callers to the right departments, but Twilio claims the new technology correctly identifies 90% of queries and can direct a call within seconds.

However, there is not much detail about the new roles the reassigned staff will take on  IT Pro has contacted M&S for clarification on this.

Recently the retail giant partnered with business tech educators, Decoded, to create a data academy for staff to learn data skills. M&S said they wanted to encourage employees to enrol on the 18-month data science skills programme, where they could learn to harness cutting-edge data analytics tools such as "R" and "Python" and adopt technologies such as machine learning.

In June, the high street giant announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft focused on integrating AI technology into the M&S customer experience.

"We firmly believe that AI has the power to amplify human ingenuity," said Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK, speaking at the time of the announcement.

"The retail sector is one of the most challenging landscapes in the UK right now and we are thrilled to be working with M&S to explore how AI can help such an iconic brand transform the customer experience and improve wider operations."

Featured Resources

How inkjet can transform your business

Get more out of your business by investing in the right printing technology

Download now

Journey to a modern workplace with Office 365: which tools and when?

A guide to how Office 365 builds a modern workplace

Download now

Modernise and transform your sales organisation

Learn how a modernised sales process can drive your business

Download now

Your guide to managing cloud transformation risk

Realise the benefits. Mitigate the risks

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/technology/30736/what-is-ethical-ai
Technology

What is ethical AI?

11 Feb 2020
Visit/business-strategy/31780/the-it-pro-panel
Business strategy

The IT Pro Panel

27 Jan 2020
Visit/careers/28212/a-guide-to-cyber-security-certification-and-training
Careers & training

A guide to cyber security certification and training

13 Jan 2020
Visit/email-clients/19598/hotmail-outlookcom-upgrades-your-questions-answered
Software

Hotmail.co.uk migration to Outlook.com: Qs answered

11 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/mobile/28299/how-to-use-chromecast-without-wi-fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

5 Feb 2020
Visit/cloud/cloud-computing/354767/google-cloud-snaps-up-multi-cloud-analytics-platform-for-26bn
cloud computing

Google Cloud snaps up multi-cloud analytics platform for $2.6bn

13 Feb 2020
Visit/operating-systems/27717/how-to-fix-a-stuck-windows-10-update
operating systems

How to fix a stuck Windows 10 update

12 Feb 2020
Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354771/microsoft-azure-is-a-testament-to-satya-nadellas-strategic-nouse
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a testament to Satya Nadella’s strategic nouse

14 Feb 2020