Home and furniture giant Ikea is training up its call centre workers to become interior design advisers, as artificial intelligence plays a crucial role in answering its customer enquiries, according to Reuters.

According to a report, an “artificial intelligence bot called Billie” has handled 47% of Ikea’s customer enquiries over the past two years since its launch.

Ikea owner Ingka Group also said around 8,500 call centre workers had been trained to become interior design advisers since 2021.

This comes as Ikea expanded its interior design services to the UK and the US in April this year, offering advice video calls, workspace design consultations and floor plans, among other services.

Ingka Group global people and culture manager Ulrika Biesèrt said: “We’re committed to strengthening co-workers’ employability in Ingka, through lifelong learning and development and reskilling, and to accelerate the creation of new jobs.”

Biesèrt also told Reuters that the company is not currently seeing the use of AI impact its staff headcount.

Ikea’s sales by phone or video products and services through Ingka Group’s “remote interior design channel” accounted for €1.3bn (£1.12bn) of its revenue for the 2022 financial year, which was 3.3% of the total revenue.

Ikea owner Ingka Group also confirmed plans to increase that share of revenue to 10% by 2028 in a bid to “appeal to future Gen Z customers”.