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Klarna Says Its AI Assistant Does the Work of 700 People. The Company Laid Off the Same Number of Employees 2 Years Ago. The AI bot has taken on 75% of Klarna's customer service chats, or about 2.3 million conversations, within a month of launch.

By Sherin Shibu

Key Takeaways

  • Klarna is a $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup.
  • On Wednesday, the company said its AI chatbot “is doing the equivalent work of 700 full-time [customer service] agents.”
  • In 2022, the company went through public layoffs that cut out 700 employees, or 10% of its workforce.
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Klarna, the $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup used by companies like Versace, Nike, and Wayfair, stated on Tuesday that its AI chatbot "is doing the equivalent work of 700 full-time [customer service] agents."

The statement arrives on the heels of Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski's announcement in December that the company is no longer hiring outside of engineering and that AI would pick up the duties of laid-off employees.

Sebastian Siemiatkowski, chief executive officer of Klarna Holding AB, at IFGS 2022 summit at the Guildhall in London, U.K., on Monday, April 4, 2022. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Klarna's OpenAI-powered AI chatbot has been live for about a month, and the company is "incredibly excited" about it, according to Siemiatkowski. The AI assistant handles questions about refunds, returns, payments, cancellations, and more in 35 languages in usually under two minutes. The previous time of a customer service interaction without the chatbot was 11 minutes.

The AI bot has taken on 75% of Klarna's customer service chats, or about 2.3 million conversations so far, and achieved customer satisfaction scores comparable to those of human agents, according to the company.

Related: AI Is Coming For Your Jobs — Anyone Who Says Otherwise Is In Denial. Here's How You Can Embrace AI to Avoid Being Left Behind.

Klarna additionally reports that the chatbot could improve the company's profits by $40 million this year. The launch is a step forward toward Klarna's goal of a "fully AI-powered financial assistant."

Meanwhile, users have had mixed experiences with the chatbot, with some questioning Klarna's claim that it was possible to replace 700 human support agents in a month with AI. Gergely Orosz, an author and writer at The Pragmatic Engineer, tried out the chatbot and stated that the AI "recites exact docs and passes me on to human support fast."

"It acts basically as a filter to get to customer support," Orosz wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "As soon as I ask or instruct anything that is not a doc, I'm *boom* talking with a human agent."

Related: 5 AI Hacks You Need to Know About in 2024

Back in May 2022, Siemiatkowski publicly posted a list of the 700 employees Klarna laid off that month with their personal contact information. Klarna told Fast Company on Tuesday that the AI bot's productivity is "in no way connected to the workforce reductions."

Klarna is reportedly discussing a potential U.S. initial public offering this year at a valuation of around $20 billion, per Bloomberg.

Sherin Shibu

Entrepreneur Staff

News Reporter

Sherin Shibu is a business news reporter at Entrepreneur.com. She previously worked for PCMag, Business Insider, The Messenger, and ZDNET as a reporter and copyeditor. Her areas of coverage encompass tech, business, strategy, finance, and even space. She is a Columbia University graduate.

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