Virtual assistants can save the telecommunications industry $1.2 billion by 2022, resulting in a 17% CAGR over the next five years. We explore how telcos can leverage AI assistants to enhance customer experience.

Virtual assistants are more embedded in our day-to-day lives than ever before. Today, people use devices such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to browse, control home appliances and even shop online.

Unfortunately, some large organizations aren’t up to speed with these developments yet. For instance, many telecom companies still use traditional calls and text messages to serve customers.

The result is a crummy customer experience, costing telcos billions of dollars annually. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Telecom industry posted an average 72.2% customer satisfaction rate, which is below the national average of 74.4 %.

Why Customer Experience is a Big Deal for Telcos

For the past few years, the telecommunications industry has been walking a tightrope. And new entrants are eroding all the gains made through voice calls and text messaging.

The rise of video-on-Demand tools and video streaming platforms has seen more people cut the cable cord.

Last year alone, the telecoms industry lost over six billion subscribers. By 2024, 46.6 million households will have ditched telecommunications cables.

The main attraction of these Over-the-Top (OTT) video streaming and video-on-demand companies is amazing customer experience (CX).

While telecoms rest easy, banking on the sector’s relative stability over the last three decades, OTT players invest in emerging digital journeys, aligned with the changing customer behaviors.

Now, the OTT players allow consumers to call and send messages in a matter of clicks. Besides, they resolve issues fast, which translates to smooth service delivery.

Telecoms must, therefore, up their game to restore the lost authority. And AI virtual assistants might be the solution.

4 Ways Telcos Can Enhance Customer Experience with Virtual Assistants

IDC indicates that 63.5% of operators are investing in AI to improve infrastructure and boost user experience. 

Let’s explore how AI virtual assistants can enhance CX in the Telecommunication industry.

Provide 24/7 Customer Service

Virtual assistants enable telcos to remain available 24/7 in three ways;

First, fully automated self-service assistants don’t need human intervention. So, the customer can fix any issue, any time. Even the IBM research shows that 56% of users are happy with self-service assistants.

The two other options are conversational chatbots and human-assisted support. Conversational chatbots are proactive solutions that users can ask questions and receive satisfactory answers.

Lastly, the chatbots often work with humans (the traditional support desk) to solve any queries beyond the virtual assistant’s capabilities.

The best part about virtual assistants is; they are service self-learning and can therefore observe patterns to self-improve.

A good example is TOBi, Vodafone’s virtual assistant. TOBi handles 100% of communication messages with 28% automation. The company expects to automate 40% of the work over the next few years.

Offer personalized services

Personalization is another major area in customer experience. If Telecoms can interact with customers at a personal level and provide unique solutions, they’d be one step ahead of the competition.

But, there’s a challenge – OTT companies have set the bar high leaving Telcoms to play catch-up.

Luckily, AI-powered VAs can help telecommunications companies to bridge the personalization gap. Through advanced data capturing and analysis, telcos can learn about customer preferences, services, and product usage to deliver great CX.

Insight from the analyses can also help organizations provide personalized ideas. As a result, users will find more value from subscriptions.

In one recent example, an unnamed telecom company built a hyper-personalization tool to analyze customer usage of prepaid and postpaid services.

The tool allowed the said company to deploy hyper-personalized campaigns for different consumer segments. The new campaign was a huge success, and yielded a 12% boost in revenues for prepaid services.

Resolve disputes and emerging issues faster

Dispute resolution can make or break customer experience. In one study, only 8% of telcos customers said they were happy with the company’s dispute resolutions approach. Yet, about 80% of the organizations feel they’re offering “a remarkable customer experience.”

Customers mentioned ‘making a phone call to customer support to resolve issues’ as the cause of poor (and frustrating) experience.

“The time and effort customers need to invest in problem-solving and accessing information is a factor telcos must consider for a powerful customer experience,” the study recommends.

 Best-in-Class virtual assistants are integrated with natural language processing (NLP) solutions to pick up key terms in written or spoken conversations for faster issue resolution.

It means the customers don’t have to call; they can always send a message to resolve the dispute. But, even if they call, it should take a few seconds for the assistant to understand and resolve the issue.

Simplify first-line support

The biggest advantage of virtual assistants, however, is that they can simplify first-line support. Every telecom agent will tell you the first-line issues they deal with are standard and repetitive.

They revolve around network availability and subscription status. AI virtual assistants can take over most of these questions, allowing the agents to focus on other areas.

NOKIA did this in 2017 by introducing (MIKA) – Multi-purpose Intelligent Knowledge Assistant.

MIKA provided quick recommendations to common issues by directing users to the relevant knowledge resources and supporting tools. It didn’t take long for NOKIA to register massive improvement in first-contact resolution rates.

Advanced virtual assistants can go as far as processing refunds and providing updates. If the user paid to upgrade, but the process has taken effect 48 hours later, the virtual assistant can issue a refund.

Telcos Must Act Now!

The telecommunications industry is at a critical juncture. OTT providers, riding on better customer experiences, pose a massive threat to the industry. And they are already taking away millions of cable subscribers every year.

AI-backed virtual assistants can help telcos reverse the trend. If you are struggling to provide consistently good customer experience, please consult United Pefectum.