Retail giant Marks & Spencer is replacing call centre employees with artificial intelligence software designed to quickly deal with customer complaints

Twilio's cloud communications platform will power the customer communications for M&S across 640 locations and 13 UK-based contact centre hubs.

The project to automate the retailer's legacy switchboard operation took less than six months from concept to launch and will allow it to analyse customer intent in real time for more than 12 million customer interactions annually.

Now, when a customer calls any Marks & Spencer store, Twilio’s intelligent system immediately establishes what the customer is calling about and then routes it to the correct destination.

M&S said 100 employees who work across the company's 13 UK call centres will be reassigned to in-store roles.

Chris McGrath, IT programme manager at M&S, said Twilio's platform has allows the company to "experiment like a start-up, while executing like an enterprise".

"We were able to prototype a solution in just four weeks and put it to the test during our busiest retail days of the year," he said.

"The new solution has given us an improved ability to have more direct and meaningful conversations with our customers, which also helps us reallocate valuable staff time.

"We’re excited to see where the platform takes us as we continue the roll out across our contact centres."

M&S is also taking on more services from Twilio and will be rolling out delivery status updates via text message for its eCommerce customers, powered by Twilio Programmable SMS.

Rob Brazier, director of product management at Twilio, said: "Today’s consumers have come to expect a great customer experience from the companies they buy from and communications are increasingly central to this.

“We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic retailer as it transforms its communications in order to deliver the best possible experience for its 32 million customers worldwide."

In June M&S also announced it would be partnering with Microsoft to explore integrating AI into its customer experience.