There’s no doubt that we are now living in an increasingly high-octane world in which waiting for anything has become an anathema. Feeling hungry? There’s now Uber Eats and Deliveroo at your service. Want an airline ticket? You can book one in five minutes online. Need to make a bank transfer? It’s done before you can say “can I set up a standing order please?”
In other words, service and Internet-based industries have been transformed by new digital technologies and channels that provide instant access to anything online. Importantly, customer support also has to keep up with this never-ending supply and demand, making use of email, chatbots and mobile apps to provide real-time feedback and constant interaction, resolving problems or helping customers to complete their transactions.
Unfortunately, telcos still seem to be lagging behind in this brave new world of instant gratification, and this particularly applies to customer care and service-related activities. Here, they have invested heavily in hardware, software and human resources, but they are missing a trick if they do not immediately turn their attention to some of the newer and smarter technologies that are set to transform the entire customer experience management process.
In essence, if not already doing so, a telco should now be thinking of building a smart customer assistance platform that will automate the process of problem resolution on one hand, and personalise the product offering based on the entire customer journey on the other. We’ve often discussed the concept of the “customer journey” in previous blogs, and by this we mean the entire customer relationship from the first time someone enquires about a service offering to the point at which they leave — and perhaps even beyond.
Delivering an enhanced customer experience through intelligent robots
Put yourself in the position of a customer service representative. They are now under pressure to deal with customers in a more efficient, automated, standardised and cost-effective way. This can only be achieved if the telco builds a platform that is capable of interacting, helping and guiding customers with little or no human intervention by making use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing techniques.
In other words, intelligent robots or virtual assistants can be used to automate certain repeatable processes such as processing emails automatically using AI. The smart customer assistant platform will also be integrated with CRM, billing and other legacy systems to perform customer requests.
The second half of the equation is that customers can then be offered personalised products based on their customer journey by using predictive analysis and autonomous learning, which in turn helps improve overall customer satisfaction. The more a telco knows about the customer, the better it can target products at that customer. Eventually, the operator will reduce costs and benefit from a more standardised approach for dealing with customers, thereby enhancing the overall omnichannel customer experience by offering the customer the same experience whether in-store, online or on the phone.
At the same time, we are not talking about abandoning the human element altogether. There are some aspects of dealing with customers that should never be automated – for example, when dealing with sensitive matters such as fraud or the theft of devices or data. We still have to be careful with processes where people expect the human touch. But by taking a bot-driven approach with some human intervention where required, telcos have an opportunity to change the negative view that people have of the overall customer experience.
There’s no doubt that the average consumer has come to expect a very different type of experience in this increasingly digital world, and that’s what we need to try and replicate in the telecoms world. It’s time to move out of the dark ages of customer experience management and into a new, AI-driven future.