Data analytics has completely transformed the digital customer journey, enabling everything from personalised, real-time e-commerce recommendations to streaming services that follow consumers’ watching and listening habits. Now, telcos can leverage the valuable insights derived from analytics to take customer service to a new level of engagement.

Telcos are sitting on a mountain of data about their customers, from mobile data usage habits to location-based data. Analysing that data gives telcos the unique opportunity to create highly personalised offers that address customers’ specific needs, or solve individual challenges.

Consider this: In a recent survey of more than 2,000 US and UK mobile subscribers, 52% said their carrier treats them like just another nameless customer. Changing that perception could mean big business for telcos in the form of recurring revenue and long-term sales. Personalised AI-based chatbots, or other natural language, conversational interfaces can help. For example, human-centric chatbots can work to strengthen connections among chat-happy millennials.

However, without analytics to help personalise conversations to individual customers’ preferences – much like a human would – the chatbot experience could be virtually useless. To truly empower chatbots beyond novelty applications, they need access to the powerful and intelligent back-end capabilities. For example, a chatbot would not be able to recommend the right telco service based on customers’ network behaviour or a fix to a connectivity problem, without being given those recommendations by a telco specific back-end AI with access to and understanding of the network data.

With the help of data analysis, AI-based and AI-supported chatbots can help telcos provide superior customer experience and enable better customer engagement. Of course, happy customers mean a happy bottom line, but well-integrated chatbots are a smart business investment in two other ways: They can help increase revenue by upselling services in the right context, and reduce costs through automating manual operations.

Enhancing the customer experience

Telcos tend to be most successful when customers feel like their operator truly knows them and gives them control over their data plan. Feeling heard and valued is essential to develop a loyal customer. Chatbots can seamlessly interact with customers, with the ability to give them more time and attention than resource-constrained customer service reps could.

The potential applications of chatbots are wide-ranging, especially when it comes to improving the customer experience. From providing information or recommendations to reporting and trying to solve an issue, chatbots can understand customer intents and provide them with relevant information. And, when customers want to activate a new service or change their plan or customer information, well-integrated chatbots can automatically act on those requests.

Intuitive, empowering and omnichannel digital customer interfaces provide a high-quality customer experience, even if the customer is simply looking for usage or account data. Completing simple, information-based requests is a useful application for chatbots. By automating operations that were previously manual and human-centric, telcos can reduce costs, increase efficiency and preserve valuable resources.

The role of artificial intelligence and data analysis

Emerging AI technologies for natural language processing and understanding play an important role when it comes to creating a positive chatbot customer experience, enabling chatbots to understand a larger variety of human communications and better spot customers’ intents. AI technologies can also be used by chatbots to learn how to respond in a more natural way, helping customers feel less like they’re talking to a robot and more like they’re talking to a customer service rep who’s truly invested in them.

Data analysis on customer data in the back-end can be one of telco’s most powerful assets, because it can provide insight into each customer’s experience with their operator. Timely data analysis can help telcos determine the best way to address customer needs, in the right context. Data analysis allows operators to process and analyse in-the-moment data on service consumption and customer behaviours, and then recommend and automatically trigger the next-best engagement based on that analysis.

Powered by data analysis, AI-based, natural language chatbots provide an enhanced customer service experience by personalising conversations based on individual customers’ preferences in real-time, making interactions more relevant to both the operator and the consumer.

Let’s say that a customer wants to upgrade their mobile plan so they can have more data to stream videos. Powered by data analysis and AI, the chatbot could recommend a personalised plan that’s much better suited to that customer’s needs, like a plan with unlimited video streaming, even if it’s a bit more expensive in the short term. This is a win-win: The customer has a positive, individualised experience, and the chatbot is able to upsell services in the right context.

Messaging channels used with AI-based chatbots will also have the potential to present more proactive alerts and offers, which 55% of mobile data customers say they’re eager to receive. If the customer has just upgraded their phone, for example, data analytics could automatically deliver an offer for device insurance to that customer, through a messaging channel. Subsequent questions by the customer about the insurance offer could then be handled by the AI chatbot within the same conversation.

The opportunity is ripe for personalised customer engagement, and data-powered, AI-based chatbots can enable it.


By Mikko Jarva, CTO of intelligent data at Comptel

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