I imagine a lot of the problem is unrealistic KPIs (key performance indicators)/understaffing.
Let's say a customer service rep works 8 hours per day on the clock (we're not counting lunch). That's 480 minutes. But let's say they're also required to complete 240 calls per day.
At that rate, they have 2 minutes per customer unless they stay late. If the company won't pay time and a half for overtime, or maybe won't pay for overtime at all, how do they get their work done? They meet the KPI by giving everyone the bum's rush.
And the only thing the company does for them is bring in AI. The idea, in theory, is that the AI will allow the CSRs (or maybe their supervisor) to better triage calls. Hence the customer gets a person who has the knowledge. And if it's a simple question, they get someone who's junior, even though the senior person could also answer that. This is because the senior person is busy putting out fires and doing other advanced stuff.
If we move the KPI down to 160 calls/day, then they get 3 minutes per customer. 120 calls? 4 minutes. 96 calls? 5 minutes.
And so on, you can run a calculator as well as I can.
None of these are a lot of time, particularly if a customer is chatty or the problem is truly complex. A call that takes 15 minutes to complete will mean somewhere between 3 and 8 people (per the above numbers) will get less than the allotted time so the CSR can go home on time.
Of course the remedies are either to hire more CSRs or lower the KPIs. Another remedy is to make the website better. If I'm calling (by calling I mean communicating with a chatbot), say, a movie theater, I want to know what's playing when. I probably also want to know if it's sold out, what the rating is, and why the film got the rating it did. I might also want to know the names of the stars and even see a short synopsis of the plot or a review. If I can buy tickets on that same screen, then it's perfect.
If the website can provide me with all that information, and it can do so in a way that is easy to get to, then I never need to call the theater. I would only call in case of something really off the wall, like someone is trashing the place, or the projectionist quit in the middle of the film, etc. None of that stuff can be handled via AI anyway.
What if I'm blind? Or elderly? Or I'm otherwise not very computer savvy? Or English isn't my first language, and the website isn't translating well? Or I don't have internet access? Or I don't have a credit card or PayPal (or the like, such as Venmo) where I can pay online? Or I prefer paying cash? If that's the case, then the website probably can't help me or I won't be able to understand how to use it. Right now, this percentage of the population is shrinking, but they're never going to be completely gone.
For those folks, AI can only go so far. And most of those are going to be problems which junior people will pass up the chain, because they're not straightforward.
What I suspect is coming is a real housecleaning of junior people. If AI gets better (as in, it fulfills its promise of better triaging), then 1 junior person might be able to do the work of 5. And if the system triages well enough to hand over the hard stuff directly to the senior person, then the junior person has one less longer call to take.
But KPIs also have to be realistic for the senior people. If the only calls that go through to a human are the hard ones, then they are going to have to get 10-15 minutes or more for every single call, so they can look things up or talk people off the ledge.
It would mean far fewer CSR jobs although better training for CSRs. And in a way, it's a shame, as junior CSR is one of the few semi-skilled jobs you can 100% do from home.