Telcos with a natural high dependency on customer service agents, are proactively looking to Conversational AI to improve reach, accessibility and the customer experience. Other drivers are reducing the cost to serve, as well as a greener way to operate, reducing energy consumption and emissions. The chatbot market is increasing 35% every year and the improvements in natural language processing mean chatbots’ performance and value are also increasing.
To realise the benefits and ROI from chatbots, they must be able to hold a conversation, so overall performance and delivering a good customer experience are key to driving higher volumes of automated calls. Consequently, one of our telco customers is now handling more than half a billion queries through its chatbots a year.
Early chatbot manifestations were only capable of answering simple FAQs but today, more advanced technologies have allowed telcos to use machine learning and natural language processing to identify customer intentions, to understand what a customer requires, pushing proactive content and offers and subsequently having a conversation. A customer will always have the option to talk to an agent, but this is only done in complex situations, allowing the agents to upskill and focus on increased customer satisfaction.
If you’re in the telecom industry, you’ll hear these two metrics often: NPS and end-to-end automated conversations. The overriding KPI is to automate as many conversations as possible, while driving the NPS higher.
Chatbot use cases:
Chatbots not only help customers with queries 24/7, but they also help with customer retention. By dealing with vast amounts of queries at a given time, customers now can get answers quickly with issues that can span different departments through a smooth experience.
1. Technical issues
Whether a customer is querying their bill, or has a fault with their broadband service, they don’t need to wait for an agent to investigate the bill or wait for an engineer to come and inspect the issue with their broadband. Telecom chatbots can now automate these queries, with some going as far as remotely rebooting your broadband system and performing a health check on your equipment.
2. Personalised advice
Chatbots are going beyond automating technical support, they now provide customised offers based on your previous purchases, suggest better deals, review subscriptions and even notify customers on pending payments. By keeping track of previous interactions, spent and user habits, Chatbots now help customers make better choices and increase brand loyalty.
Some major telcos have expanded chatbot functionality into the sales department. Based on previous behaviours, a chatbot can proactively suggest different deals, upgrades or services that better suit customers. With low margins on device sales, telcos are introducing additional services to their bundles. For example, if a customer is seen to have a high usage on a video or music streaming service, this can become an opportunity to offer a different subscription, which includes such a service. This can increase sales and acquisitions.
4. Fraud prevention
With telecom being one of the industries that is more at risk of cyber fraud, chatbots can now monitor and recognise warning signs and irregular behaviours and issue alerts directly to a customer and the company itself.
5. Upskilling contact centre teams
Since chatbots can solve repetitive and time-consuming queries, this allows agents to focus on upskilling in more complex tasks, back-office operations and carry out valuable training.
The future of telecom chatbots and the latest improvements
The aim was always to go omni-channel, with most telcos now providing chatbots through web interfaces or through their apps. Whereas this is done through text, the next wave of development is in IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems. Traditional IVR systems use text-to-speech (TTS) prompts to offer the caller options, which deliver static menus in robotic voices.
Due to market competition and customer engagement demand, more telcos are improving their IVR systems. This new wave of telecommunication service uses conversational AI to identify a caller’s intent and concern, while generating relevant communication and resolutions. The voice-bots are now managing calls as the first point of contact by handling the simple customer needs automatically and forwarding the caller to an agent for intricate issues.
By adding voice-bots to the multi-channel strategy, telcos are now reducing churn rates, improving customer retention, and engaging customers on their channel of choice.
Customer success story
Vodafone has over half a billion conversations going through its chatbot on an annual basis. With these large volumes of customer queries, it has achieved over 50% end-to-end containment rate.
Read the customer success story of how we’ve helped Vodafone improve its chatbot’s accuracy by over 50% and saved over 2,000 manual testing hours a month.