Nearly every telecommunications company today has deployed some form of a customer service chatbot. This was a good initial step towards improving online telecom customer service and enabling immediate omnichannel responses. But the bar is rapidly rising for AI for customer experience. Primitive chatbots are inferior to modern, sophisticated, and constantly learning Conversational AI systems.
Telco Customer Service is Failing
Telecoms have long struggled with customer satisfaction problems. For example, OnHoldWith.com collected more than 165,000 posts1 mentioning the phrase “on hold with” from Twitter. Twitter is the go-to platform for public customer complaints. The phrase “on hold with” is among the more commonly used expressions of frustration in the customer lexicon. Verizon was the most likely to be mentioned with both AT&T and Telus showing up in the top 10.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index industry report, telecommunications firms finished dead last2 among all classes of private companies (although telcos did beat the U.S. government on customer satisfaction – if that can be considered a victory).
This lack of customer satisfaction translates into real revenue losses. Customer satisfaction, measured by CSAT scores, appears to be worsening as consumers become more connected and develop higher and higher expectations.
Conversational AI can deliver the CX that chatbots can’t
The first-generation chatbots deployed by telcos left customers underwhelmed and frustrated. Chatbots are terrible at identifying context, meaning “what is implied.” They can’t answer complex questions that deviate even slightly from their script. They function more like Google searches, identifying keywords in queries and pointing to a hyperlink. When you consider that Comcast – a cable company, which also provides telecommunication and wireless phone services – found that its customers asked the simple question “I want to see my bill” in 7,500 unique word and phrase combinations, it’s understandable that these first-generation chatbots got easily confused.
Fortunately, a new generation of Conversational AI customer service platforms has arrived that go far beyond the capabilities of the first-generation chatbots deployed by most telcos. The term “chatbot” is synonymous with almost all forms of artificial conversation. As a result, powerful conversational AI is often mischaracterized as the best chatbots when they are actually something next-level. These Conversational AI systems incorporate advanced natural language systems that intuitively understand “I want to pay my bill” has nearly the same meaning as “I’d like to settle my account.”
The impact Conversational AI can have on Telco customer service
Conversational AI systems can increase customer satisfaction by making them feel heard and wanted. This, in turn, reduces churn and improves brand affinity while lifting Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Conversational AI, when properly deployed, can also inject personalized promotional offers into chats and emails to upsell additional services, like adding premium channels or faster WiFi, to existing customers.
Ultimately, the positive impact of Conversational AI can directly impact a company’s top and bottom lines, both in the short-term and long term. According to research by consultancy McKinsey3, when companies prioritized customer experience they increased revenue 10% to 15% and customer satisfaction rates were 20% higher.
In our latest eBook, we cover why Conversational AI is different than chatbots and why that’s important for future-proofing customer support technology initiatives and infrastructure at telcos to match future customer expectations of AI service capabilities. We explain the different levels of Conversational AI, a wide variety of use cases, and how to measure chatbot ROI in the context of telecom business practices. Download your free copy today.
1. Hold It!: The Top 10 Worst Companies You Called in 2020 – https://fonolo.com/blog/2020/12/onholdwith-the-worst-companies-to-call-in-2020/
2. ACSI National, Sector, and Industry Results, 2021 – https://www.theacsi.org/national-economic-indicator/national-sector-and-industry-results
3. Customer experience: Number 2, June 2017 New capabilities, new audiences, new opportunities, McKinsey – https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Customer%20Experience/CX%20Compendium%202017/Customer-experience-compendium-July-2017.ashx