Ever-increasing customer expectations for telecommunication services make it difficult for telecom service providers to deliver gratifying personalized customer experiences across channels, while simultaneously keeping costs down. To overcome this challenge, telecom service providers are turning to automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to engage more effectively with their customers and simplify their operations. The market for call-center AI technology is expected to increase from $800 million in 2019 to $2.8 billion by 2024.
AI-powered decisioning engines with predictive and proactive capabilities can help companies take appropriate actions during real-time interactions with customers on every channel leading to better customer engagement. With AI-driven capabilities in place, telecom service providers can achieve multiple objectives:
- Boost loyalty and retention – Advanced analytics allow companies to predict customer behavior in real-time.
- Grow revenue through upselling and cross-selling of services – Anticipating customer needs using real-time context allows associates to make the right offer on the right channel when a customer is most likely to buy.
- Accelerate growth – Telecom service providers can use AI to increase sales by basing channel bundling decisions on predicted customer preferences.
Automation and AI Solutions are Expanding
Three types of providers are currently leading automation and AI transformation in contact centers. All are continuously expanding their offerings, but each takes a different approach:
- Cloud-based contact center customer experience software providers such as NICE inContact, Five9, Verint, and Genesys leverage digital and AI technologies to deliver top-notch personalized customer experiences. These providers offer advanced automation functionality, including proactive and predictive capabilities, to enable smarter decision-making and ensure employees have the knowledge and tools they need at their fingertips.
- “Software as a Service (SaaS)” customer experience management platforms such as Sprinklr leverage their expertise in automation and big data to provide new customer experience solutions for contact centers. SaaS solutions can be used to manage call routing, escalation, analytics, and measurement for both inbound and outbound calls as well as to provide customer sentiment across social platforms.
- Big Data Analytics companies such as Palantir empower enterprise organizations to effectively integrate their data, decisions, and operations across their businesses. Northridge used the Palantir platform to transform a telecom company’s customer experience by combining siloed data sets to produce actionable insights that can be operationalized within the platform.
Delivering Proactive Digital Customer Service
By combining AI-driven and automation functionalities, telecom service providers can operate more efficiently and deliver a better omnichannel experience to customers. Telecom service providers with these capabilities in place can more efficiently engage with customers. For example:
- AI-driven systems can sense a potential billing issue, then send a proactive notification to the customer.
- AI-powered propensity modeling can predict customer purchasing behavior and determine the optimal timing for presenting promotional offers to increase the likelihood of upsells.
- AI can drive self-service capabilities to improve customer experience and decrease calls to contact centers.
- If a customer does have to call, customer service agents will be ready. They will be able to view the details of charges over time and can be intelligently guided with scripts.
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By resolving customers’ issues quickly, telecom service providers can drive higher customer satisfaction scores, better First Contact Resolution (FCR) rates, lower average handle time (AHT), lower cost-to-serve clients, opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, increased revenue (due to upsells and cross-sells), and improved customer experience.
AI and automation capabilities are vital for customer retention. Having the ability to predict customer behavior, be proactive to customer needs, and personalize as well as optimize interactions for each customer, is invaluable. Telecom service providers can use AI in combination with robotics and end-to-end automation to streamline complex operations. With AI and robotics, telecom service providers can optimize operations and select the most effective delivery methods, equipment, vendors, or contractors to address and resolve problems
Empowering Telecom Contact Centers to Proactively Care for Customers
Telecom contact centers are reaping many benefits from automation, AI, and the integration of big data. While the prospect of being increasingly able to proactively care for customers is gaming-changing for the telecom industry, contact center managers should proceed with cautious optimism about the potential of AI and automation to transform traditional customer service. Self-service functionality should allow customers to save time and engage at their convenience. Chatbots should offer customers the benefit of immediate helpful assistance. Proactive alerts that let customers know about billing issues, statement changes, and service outages in advance should allow them to calmly respond to troubling news without becoming angry, then consider their options and take appropriate actions to resolve their issues.
Salesforce reports that 69 percent of consumers actively choose chatbots because they are faster for basic queries and can help direct them to the correct customer service agent when more complex problems arise. However, care must be taken to implement these functionalities correctly and to ensure that contact center associates are well trained to utilize all tools effectively. Chatbots that don’t offer customers the options they need to resolve their issues and then circle around again offering the same unhelpful options have the potential to infuriate customers. Associates that read their scripts in a way that demonstrates a lack of understanding of the information they are communicating cause customers to lose confidence in the company they represent. When automating a contact center, well-thought-out implementation and change management strategies are key. Every contact center situation is unique and requires unique solutions.
The Northridge Group helps telecom clients transform their contact centers to leverage the benefits of automation and AI, enabling smarter decision-making and more engaging and personalized customer experiences.