Aircall AI Index: 64% of SMBs are optimistic about AI, yet human connection remains essential

Julie FernandezLast updated on May 16, 2023
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  • Businesses must drive education and trust around AI, with 63% of employees stating there is a lack of understanding of what AI can do.

  • Employees say using AI could save 25% of the time they spend on transcribing calls, voicemails and writing notes.

  • Concerns remain with almost half (46%) of global employees fearing AI will replace them and 46% concerned it will lead to lower pay.

Aircall, the phone and communication platform, today launches a global report analyzing the behavior and attitudes towards the potential of AI in the workplace of 3,500 employees within SMBs in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the U.S.

The report found that 64% of employees are optimistic about AI in general—rising to 68% of those aged 25 to 34. But despite optimism, more work is needed to get the most value out of AI. Greater education is needed around the uses of it to support the daily work of teams—with 63% stating that there is a lack of understanding, and almost 3 in 4 employees stating they would be interested in learning more about how AI can benefit them. 

The incentive for business leaders is to source more information from trusted and credible partners in the face of misinformation about AI, which is a key issue for 59% of employees. 

Ambitions for AI are high—but education is needed

AI has already shown its ability to boost productivity and 44% of workers believe that AI will lead to greater efficiency in the workplace while 39% state that AI will allow them to spend less time on admin. 

When it comes to ambitions for AI, over a third (35%) of workers highlight hopes for improvements to training, onboarding, and/or upskilling, and even a better work/life balance. This is crucial for customer-facing teams, who face increased pressure to drive revenue in a challenging business environment.

While there is a clear appetite to leverage AI, businesses need to strike a balance between speed and caution in its deployment. Half (50%) of employees are concerned about moving too fast with AI and 56% reveal that they lack the proper technology infrastructure and skill sets to implement it effectively. Meanwhile, 60% of employees are worried that AI’s lack of human input could impact the quality of their work. 

AI is seen as key to human interaction 

In a challenging business environment, delivering impactful customer experiences is central to the success of SMBs worldwide, but on average just 4.2 hours out of the working week are spent on meaningful interactions with customers. 

This could explain why a higher percentage of customer-facing teams globally were particularly optimistic about the use of AI, given its ability to automate the day-to-day admin of teams and return workers’ hours to meaningful, high-impact work.

In fact, workers expect AI to deliver value in a predominantly supportive role:

  • 74% say the automation of processes

  • 68% say improved customer service and support 

  • 68% say providing impactful business insights 

  • 65% say greater sales performance or revenue growth

  • 63% say coaching and upskilling teams 

While AI implementations must address employee concerns, the majority (53%) confirm they will be investing in the next 12 months. While for those who aren’t investing, the biggest barrier is budget (42%). This shows that a common misconception among SMBs—that AI is reserved for larger enterprises with deeper pockets—persists. 

Jonathan Anguelov, Co-founder and Chief Sales Officer at Aircall comments: “AI is still in its infancy, but we’re already seeing its profound potential for businesses. To untap its true value, businesses must see AI as a facilitator of greater human connections—not a substitute for them. This is something we at Aircall have done with the launch of our own AI features taking aim at the daily work of sales and support teams, which has become overburdened with repetitive tasks that don’t create impact for them or their customers. Partnering with AI empowers them to take that time back, build stronger customer relationships and human connection. Caution is needed of course, and businesses should spend their time investing in supervision, awareness, and training. Ultimately, this will ensure an exciting new journey for them remains one that accords to their values, model, and objectives.”

Aircall’s AI Index and more information about the findings are available for download.

Methodology 

The survey was conducted among 3,500 employees within SMBs in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in March and April 2023 using an email invitation and an online survey. 

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 1.7 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.


Published on May 16, 2023.

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