Klarna CEO says AI can replace 700 workers But job turnover is not the biggest problem.

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Fintech company Klarna, which powers e-commerce transactions for some of the world’s best-known brands including Expedia, Macy’s and Nike, is at the forefront of AI adoption. It has integrated artificial intelligence throughout the company, most notably with an AI chatbot that it recently said employs the equivalent of 700 customer service agents. Klarna, which employs about 4,000 people, was recently released. statistics Showcasing how effective and efficient this tool has been, creative AI’s role in business, how humans interact with it and its implications for the future of work revolved around sensitive and high-level discussions. are CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski explains why he’s so open about AI’s capabilities, and what worries him most about the new technology. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The arrival of AI in the workplace “isn’t something that’s happening in the future — it’s happening now,” said Klarna CEO Sebastian Simetkowski.


AI taking over human jobs is an interesting topic. Why did you choose to publicly share data on Klarna’s use of AI to replace customer service agents?

We are generally concerned about its impact on society, so we decided to be upfront about the fact that it has had some amazing results for its users.

It currently employs about 700 full-time workers. [customer service] Agents Klarna does not employ its own customer service agents, we use some of the biggest customer service providers out there. They are outsourced – they are not employees.

We made this announcement to explain that as a result of our rollout of this technology, we need 700 fewer full-time agents than we normally employ on average. On average we need 3000 agents, now we need a little more than 2000.

We wanted to inform policymakers that this is not something that is happening in the future – it is happening now. We think it is important that society starts thinking about this big change.

How to get your resume past and in front of a human.

So this is not related to Klarna’s layoff in 2022? AI didn’t take those jobs?

In 2022, as a result of changing investor sentiment, we had to downsize our company. We cut our staff by about 800 people. any of me [the people we laid off] There were customer service agents. Now, two years later, we’re looking at the exciting technology we’ve developed with ChatGPT. These are two completely separate things that have been mixed together.

In the short term, there are not Termination or Implications of Employees As a result of our launch of this customer service AI chatbot.

What does a chatbot do? How do you measure its success?

It handles two-thirds of our customer service chat inquiries. It is human-equivalent in terms of satisfaction and has resulted in a 25% reduction in customer repeat inquiries.

Before We took it live, we already had a co-pilot that helped customer service agents and other employees speed up their work. This AI actually communicates and solves customer problems on its own. We think it’s important that people still have the option to talk to a human, but we’re also seeing that people who choose to interact with an AI chatbot are very happy and find it helpful. , to an extent and considered effective. It can communicate in 35 languages, so for many expats and expatriate groups, this means their experience is vastly improved.

In large organizations, less time is spent on actually creating value for employees, customers and shareholders. With AI, it’s the less productive work that can be taken away. In an ideal world, everyone who joins a company would be able to use their creative power to create real value for customers—not to write an impressive pitch for its CEO. It is less than value add. This is exactly the kind of work I hope will shrink.

Are you worried about making mistakes or providing incorrect information?

One has to remember that unfortunately, we humans are not perfect. Humans are wonderful but they also make mistakes, either because they don’t. [give a query] Get proper attention or training, and it’s not always their fault. The thing is, it happens, especially when asking millions of users, some aren’t as good as you want them to be.

The key metric we use is to make sure it makes fewer mistakes on average than humans. That’s the goal and it’s something we’re monitoring very closely. We ensure that AI errors are less severe and less common.

How has AI changed your approach to employment, if at all?

We have stopped recruiting in the last six months. We are shrinking as a company, not from layoffs, but from natural attrition. Klarna strives to apply AI to all products and services and our work. This affects how many people we need as a company. This is a time when a single product improvement greatly reduced the need for customer service agents.

How do your employees feel about it?

As much as it’s not easy not to talk about it, we want to be honest and transparent and tell people about it because of the impact on society. As for our own employees, that’s what we’ve been trying to communicate internally since we stopped hiring in October — that we believe this will allow us to do more with less.

Our goal is to invest more per employee and see compensation for existing employees increase as we become a higher revenue company.

Internally, many employees are excited about AI and implementing it and Klarna, which is known as a leading AI company, I think makes our workers more attractive to other employers. .

How will AI affect CEO jobs?

How did you arrive at your estimate of $40 million in AI cost savings for Klarna?

We were buying customer service from suppliers to take care of enquiries. We had budgeted amounts for how much we were going to spend with these suppliers this year. Now thanks to technology we will spend much less. Forty million is the delta between what we expected to spend and what we actually will spend.

What do you think will be the biggest implications of AI for society?

We are sharing this information to raise the question with society at large about how we will manage this massive change.

From what I’ve heard, it’s less about job security and more about general security, as in, we’ll need electronic IDs to know we’re actually humans talking to each other. .

Also, while new [AI-related] Jobs can be created. At the social level, it is not a solution for the individual. [who is replaced by AI].

The better we as a society can help those affected, the more positive development this will be. The idea is not to stop it. I don’t think that’s right. The question is, ‘What can we do to help those affected by this?’

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