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Study: AI boosts productivity 14%

Written on May 19, 2023

Generative artificial intelligence boosted worker productivity 13.8% at a Fortune 500 company while reducing employee turnover and increasing customer satisfaction, according to a case study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

AI is especially helpful in upgrading performance among less-skilled and less-experienced workers, researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Stanford University found in what they said is the first empirical study of generative AI’s impact on the workplace. 

“Access to AI-generated recommendations increases worker productivity, improves customer sentiment and is associated with reductions in employee turnover,” the researchers found using data from 5,179 customer support agents at an unidentified company that provides business process software. 

Generative AI has grabbed the attention of CFOs and their C-suite colleagues since the introduction in November of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, prompting forecasts that businesses will rapidly adopt the technology. 

In their case study, the MIT and Stanford researchers identified more gains than losses from generative AI. They studied a company that uses generative AI to give conversational guidance to customer support agents, who may choose to accept or reject the AI advice. 

The technology increased by 13.8% the number of customer problems resolved by agents each hour by aggregating the top behaviors of the most productive agents and prompting less-experienced and less-skilled colleagues during calls to follow those best practices, the researchers said. 

When using generative AI, agents with just two months of experience performed as well as agents without the technology who had been on the job for six months or more, according to the study. 

The refined conservations prompted by AI also improve employee and customer satisfaction, the researchers said. “Turnover decreases, particularly for newer workers, and customers are less likely to escalate a call by asking to speak to an agent’s supervisor,” the researchers said. 

The most talented customer service agents gained the least from the generative AI, according to the study. 

“Our findings raise questions about whether and how workers should be compensated for the data they provide to AI systems,” the researchers said. High-skilled workers “plan an important role in model development but see smaller direct benefits in terms of improving their own productivity.”