Customers today seek speed – speedy access to services, and in a timely fashion. This extends to customer service in the telecommunications (telecom) industry, as many rely heavily on mobile devices and networks in an era of remote work and social connections. With advances in technology, lightning-fast connectivity is already here, or well within reach.
Take, for instance, 5G, the fifth generation of cellular networks, a game-changing technology that is up to 100 times faster than its predecessor, 4G. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, global wireless 5G adoption hit a milestone of 701 million connections and is expected to accelerate again in 2023, reaching 4.8 billion by the end of 2026. Canadian telecom giant Bell recently announced the network readiness of 5G+, to soon be deployed across the country on its 5G wireless network, offering unprecedented mobile data speeds of up to 3Gbps (gigabits per second) for gaming, streaming, and video conferencing.
In parallel with this sense of momentum, telecom companies must offer speedy resolutions when it comes to customer service and support.
Providing High-Speed Telecom Customer Service in a Connected World
New advances in technology = more service offerings = more support tickets
As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the telecom industry is also growing more intricate and complex, with a slew of new offerings. Gone are the days when customers had a landline phone and dial-up (!) internet. Now, with the advent of 5G, fiber internet, fixed wireless access (FWA) and IoT-connected devices, customers are spoiled for choice when it comes to how and with whom to connect to the internet, and the competition among service providers is heating up. Additionally, unlimited data plans, as well as improved network coverage and capacity, are increasingly attracting new 5G subscribers. Service providers are offering packages that include gaming, music and video streaming and speed tier options to incentivize service uptake, providing additional value to subscribers.
With this combination of a growing customer base and an increased number of services, there is bound to be an increase in support-related queries.
This complexity calls for improved organization and a streamlined customer support process – here is where AI-powered virtual assistants can play a leading role. For instance, the virtual assistants can summarize and route tickets to the most appropriate agent for the task, and also assist agents by gathering information from the customer and back-end systems prior to handoff to a human agent, such as a customer’s account status. Such assistants help to tackle the problem of providing immediate responses, and directing customers to the right resources to find what they are looking for.
Yet, in the increasingly sophisticated landscape that is the telecom industry, there is a need for sophisticated solutions to deliver an exceptional customer experience. How can telecom customer service teams get ahead to offer truly exceptional, proactive customer care?
Timely and proactive support, in the moments that matter
Going one step beyond AI-powered chatbots for customer service, this is where it becomes critical to adopt conversational AI systems that incorporate advanced natural language systems – systems that intuitively understand that the statement “I want to pay my bill” has closely the same meaning as “I’d like to settle my account.” Armed with this understanding, they are better able to leverage customer-specific information, to provide customer responses that are both instant and relevant. Conversational AI, for instance, might notice that customers are inquiring specifically about 5G network roll-outs, and generate a set of comprehensive and standard responses in anticipation of more of these queries. Such systems can easily handle common and highly repeatable queries, such as ‘Can I change my current plan’ and ‘how many GB of data do I get per month?’ phone capability, plan limitations and modifications.
As global demand for 5G technology increases, however, so does the need for enhanced security. Due to the convergence with traditional IT, the threat landscape for 5G is more complex than with previous generations. As networks such as 5G grow more software-based and decentralized, their surface attack area and points of entry increase. Recently, several U.S. Government security agencies warned that, by exploiting software flaws in routers and other network infrastructure equipment, hackers breached major telecom companies. Because of heightened concerns of customer personal data potentially at stake, telecom companies need to be more vigilant about continual communication with their customers, as they will likely be seeking more information, as well as thoroughness in responses.
Based on in-depth knowledge of the customer, AI is adept at predicting and resolving potential issues before they occur, at using simple insights to take action on behalf of the customer, or informing them that it is time to take action. Working alongside AI-powered virtual agents, human agents can preempt and prevent – halting any potentially budding issues in their tracks before they turn into issues. For instance, a telecom company may have new internet service packages that meet a customer’s profile current needs. Virtual agents could initiate a proactive conversation with the customer with a friendly message such as: “Looking to upgrade your current home internet plan? We have several new packages available that may be suitable for you and your family.” Such a gesture can go a long way in terms of driving customer loyalty.
Transmitting a State of the Art Telecom Customer Experience
Netomi’s The State of Customer Service in 2022 report discovered that telecom companies are the most dreaded customer service calls to make – this was reported by 53% of respondents. Wireless companies took the lead with 27% of consumer votes, with cable companies at 26%. It is time for this perception to change, time for telecom companies to adopt AI-powered solutions and harness conversational AI to deliver high-speed service in the rapidly advancing and hyper-connected world of today.