Top six ways AI and CX automation revolutionize telcos

Top six ways AI and CX automation revolutionize telcos

Top six ways AI and CX automation revolutionize telcos

14th of December 2020

The evolution of CX

It’s no secret that customer experience (CX) is emerging as the key differentiator for service providers: a Gartner study reports that over two-thirds of marketers say their companies compete primarily on CX. And two modern technologies are facilitating richer and more advanced CX than ever before: artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

AI is used to mimic human intelligence in responding to situations and conversations. Automation, on the other hand, enables repetitive tasks to run with limited to no human intervention through preset programming. AI and automation, along with customer insights, enhance a telco’s capability to deliver an intelligent customer experience. This powerful combination also revolutionizes the way telcos interact with customers, facilitating them to monitor, track, and manage the customer experience 24x7x365. Artificial intelligence helps operators analyze complex customer behavioral patterns and offer contextual services, plans, and content, whereas automation accelerates these personalized offerings.

Customer care processes have drastically eased with the help of modern, automated, AI-based omnichannel self-care, enabling instant query redressal anytime, anywhere, and on a host of convenient platforms. NLP-based bots and emotional AI can even gauge customer emotions and moods in real-time, enabling personalized support that mimics human responses.

How AI and CX automation transform a telco’s offerings

1. Automated support

A telco’s support and self-care offerings are a major factor in influencing CX. Customers today are less inclined to contact call centers or visit physical stores for support. Instead, they prefer having more control over their accounts to resolve their own issues – using the platform and language of their choice. More telcos are turning to AI technology to improve customer engagement by automating self-care and support offerings. In fact, Servion predicts that, by 2025, AI will power 95% of all customer interactions.

AI chatbots are available for a host of platforms, including web and mobile apps, voice assistants such as Alexa and Cortana, and social platforms like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Having steadily gained popularity, they offer a direct and instant link between customers and the operator. Available round-the-clock, they help customers bypass long wait times to speak with CSRs and avoid lines at physical stores. AI chatbots mimic the experience of interacting with a human agent, understanding the customer’s sentiments and responding accordingly.

Chatbots also offer many benefits to service providers. They reduce burden on support staff at stores and in call centers. All interactions are recorded for operator analysis to improve future offerings. And using machine learning, the bots continue to become “smarter” at responding to customer queries, further reducing resolution times and improving CX. Moreover, AI assistants are also good at cross-selling products.

2. Personalized recommendations

AI helps target the right subscriber or group of subscribers at the right time using an in-depth analysis of customers’ past actions, preferences, and needs, which are collected in the form of data and algorithms. It is a powerful tool that encompasses a variety of statistical techniques to evaluate customers’ future actions, making it easier for telcos to showcase products and services that exactly match customers’ requirements in real-time. Operators capture buying preferences and complete historical data, which is then processed using advanced analytical tools to create targeted contextual offers.

AI empowers marketers to design custom campaigns and promotions based on customer preferences and behavior instead of applying a one-size-fits-all strategy. The predictions equip service providers to be future-ready to monetize offerings and respond efficiently to changing market dynamics, helping them not only offer relevant products to the customer but also to manage the supply chain more efficiently as they modify their offerings. This helps boost customer satisfaction and reduce churn while increasing ARPU, facilitating cross-selling and upselling, and more.

3. Omnichannel experience

A digital-first approach that empowers customers with more than just support through multiple channels, an omnichannel experience consolidates all customer interactions and history on a single converged platform. Using AI as part of a cohesive engagement strategy enables a seamless CX, empowering customers to engage with the service provider no matter what device or platform they use. It enables operators to enhance support offerings, reduce resolution times, and improve CX. AI can be integrated with support to offer insights on customer interactions across channels – insights that CSRs can be granted access to, helping reduce response and resolution times, lessen the burden on CSRs, and boost CX.

4. Automated digital onboarding

Customers today increasingly prefer signing up for new services online rather than visiting a store, even more so considering pandemic-related social distancing norms prevalent in many countries. From order to delivery, the entire process of purchasing a new connection can be automated, assuring customers of a quick, easy, and paperless process using the web, mobile, or any other digital channel of their choosing. Digital onboarding solutions help capture key customer information, documents, biometrics, and more, verifying this information in real-time using for secure onboarding.

5. Delightful innovations

Customers expect a constantly advancing service provider who keeps up with technologies to make their life easier. With the widespread adoption of tools like chatbots and voice assistants, it’s only natural for telcos to keep pace and delight their customers with new and useful technologies driven by AI and automation. One such advancement is voice and speech recognition technology, which has meant that customers can clear their bills using voice-activated payments. The process is automated, and PCI-compliant systems assure the cardholder that their payment data is protected. Operators can offer secure round-the-clock services for customers who prefer to call and speak rather than pay online.

6. Instant satisfaction

Automation streamlines the purchase cycle for customers, easing buying decisions and payments to accelerate turnaround. Fully automated background processes use mature workflows or Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to enable instant service and, by reducing human intervention, eliminate the possibility of manual error. This enables operators to deliver the instantaneous support and service that customers demand today.

Alepo’s role in boosting CX

At the forefront of digitization, Alepo provides an industry-leading Digital Business Support System (BSS) integrated with AI-powered modules and automated processes. The BSS suite includes Omnichannel Self-Care with NLP-based AI chatbots, advanced BI reports and analytics, workflow automation in all modules such as interconnect and wholesale billingdistributor managemententerprise management, and much more.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Associate Director, Product Management

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 15 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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Telecom Vanuatu Limited begins network modernization with Alepo solutions

  • Alepo has upgraded the legacy system to its Digital BSS and the latest version of AAA for the operator’s fixed data services
  • The upgraded system supports offers based on fair usage policies, as well as happy hours enabling Telecom Vanuatu to implement free nighttime browsing
  • Telecom Vanuatu’s customers can now easily purchase data add-ons

Friday, October 16, 2020, Vanuatu – Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) has begun modernizing its network using solutions by digital enablement firm Alepo, making significant improvements to its billing, charging, and authentication systems.

The modernization will be carried out in phases, through which TVL intends to digitize and automate its data service offerings on Alepo’s advanced platform. So far, the operator has upgraded from Alepo’s legacy business support systems (BSS) to its Digital BSS, as well as upgrading to the latest version of AAA, for its fixed data services.

The upgraded system supports fair usage policy offers and Telecom Vanuatu has implemented happy hours allowing free nighttime browsing. The operator has also introduced web support using Alepo’s Omnichannel Self-Care for its data-service customers. These customers can now easily purchase data add-ons.

“In our longstanding association with Alepo, they have always proven their reliability as a solutions provider. We were confident in their ability to rapidly deliver key requirements for this upgrade, and they have surpassed our expectations. We are equally excited about their systematic approach to fully digitize our service offerings,” said Thomas Bruce, CTO of TVL.

Vishal Mathur, Vice President – Solution Integration, Alepo, said, “We often recommend phased digitalization to our customers. First, we validate key use cases, allowing the customer to introduce new offers and build digital engagement channels. Then we perform a full transformation, providing advanced capabilities to automate all service offerings across the system.”

This modernization project adds to Alepo’s growing list of deployments in the Pacific Islands. The revenue management software provider has helped transform the telecommunications landscape for several nations in the region, including enabling the launch of LTE in three countries. In addition to digital BSS transformation, its key Pacific deployments extend to carrier WiFi, LTE enablement, data charging, and AAA transformation, among others.

About TVL

Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) was created in 1978 and is Vanuatu’s first provider for landline, GSM, internet, and 4G+ (mobile internet).

TVL is the largest corporate contributor to Vanuatu’s national economy – since 2002, it has paid more than 1.8 billion vatus to the government in fees, charges and taxes. A World Bank study shows that telecommunication prices in Vanuatu are among the cheapest in the region.

TVL has fixed lines on four main islands; Efate, Santo, Malakula, and Tanna, and 85 percent of the population is covered by their mobile network.

For more information, visit tvl.vu

About Alepo

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

 

5th of May 2020

 

 

 

Telecommunications today is more essential than ever. Data and mobility have taken on a pivotal role across sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, smart cities, oil and gas, utilities, and more. Now, there is unprecedented demand on networks with cultural shifts due to the pandemic. Given the unpredictability of the future, and with many companies considering the possibility of permanently adopting remote work, the focus is directed to network contingency plans. One thing is clear: service providers with digitally advanced systems will adapt more easily to this cultural shift. And to enhance their systems, these are the top five factors they need to focus on:

Maintain high-performing and scalable networks

More people around the world are working from home due to lockdowns, and those isolating and in quarantine are spending more time on high-bandwidth streaming services such as Netflix, Youtube, and other entertainment channels, further increasing the network load. To serve this surge in demand and long-term cultural shift, telcos must invest in robust AAA infrastructure that is highly available, scalable, and stateless. Operators facing network challenges can transform AAA seamlessly and virtually, ensuring zero impact on their existing IT systems and integrations.

Automate workflows and processes

As their customers do more from home, telcos should also aim to reduce manual and in-person touchpoints. An advanced digital business support systems (BSS) stack helps automate business processes, including complex and repetitive tasks, freeing up network resources, and minimizing errors. Telcos can create, launch, deliver, and manage communications services entirely through a digital-first customer experience, keeping them ahead of the competition. Operators can introduce innovative plans, bonus policies, cashbacks, and targeted offers on-the-fly as the market evolves. Increased digitalization and personalization keeps customers engaged and loyal to the brand.

 

Digital transformation facilitates rapid implementation and customization as it possesses the following features:

  • Cloud-native services
  • Open APIs and standardized workflows
  • Automated provisioning, fulfillment, testing, chatbots
  • Microservice architecture

 

In addition, better internal processes and automated workflows mean higher productivity and efficiency in interacting with customers and vendors, while maintaining high operational excellence.

Deliver a digitally-advanced experience

It is crucial for telcos to adopt a digital-first approach to their business, not only because the majority of young consumers prefer interacting with brands through smartphones or online, but long-term cultural shifts due to the pandemic demand a rapid change to conducting business and serving customers virtually.

 

For example, customers prefer visual assistance to solve their problems. Vodafone has capitalized on this and uses the power of video to relieve the burden on their call centers that used to receive a staggering 5.2 million calls for technical assistance per year. They are now able to resolve customer issues remotely using AI and AR, helping their agents interpret and visually guide the customer, resulting in faster and more accurate problem resolution.

 

The main areas of focus for digitalization include:

  • Shift in-store customer experience to a digital channel
  • Reduce physical contact through virtual troubleshooting
  • Automate customer touchpoints to improve customer experience
  • Have IT systems that can support the cultural shift

Provide omnichannel support

With an increasing number of digital channels and a growing focus on customer experience, operators need to adopt an omnichannel strategy to keep pace with the expectations of customers. And its applications are two-fold.

 

For one, omnichannel engagement options extend a seamless, consistent, and unified shopping experience to customers across all touchpoints, whether they are shopping on the operator’s portal or through an online marketplace, physical stores, product catalogs, social media platforms, or chatbots.

 

Second, omnichannel self-care plays a significant role in the operator’s customer experience strategy, helping customers to play an active role in managing their accounts. Customers can manage their plans and services, create friends and family groups for special calling rates, and control data usage. The added transparency and increased ability to monitor accounts improves customer satisfaction and helps build trust. Automated and intelligent interactions through the web, mobile, and multiple social media channels further enhance the digital experience and empower customers with:

  • Automated digital onboarding
  • Simplified purchases
  • Automated support
  • Multiple payment modes
  • Swift complaint redressal
  • Gifting options
  • Parental controls

Move to SaaS to relieve IT

With the long-term shift to working virtually, a huge strain is put on a company’s IT infrastructure. SaaS software can relieve a huge burden on the IT infrastructure and ensure connectivity and reliability. One of the top priorities for all service providers must be shifting their infrastructure to the cloud because it lets them focus on digitization opportunities with limited investment. SaaS BSS architecture provides the telco with advanced modules, preconfigured fixed and mobile broadband plans, and 24×7 managed service operations, while a dedicated customer success manager ensures faster return on investment and reduced time-to-market. It also helps with reduced expenditure on hardware, infrastructure, maintenance, and more. The SaaS solution helps operators rapidly transform and adapt their business to modern technology trends that facilitate back-office process automation and digitize customer experience for their staff and subscribers.

Conclusion

To capitalize on cultural shifts and surging demand in data, telecom providers need to concentrate on a digital makeover, either as a complete network overhaul or a phased digital transformation. This includes not just offering better network capabilities but also implementing innovative tools and strategies to enable process automation and enhanced customer experience. Service providers must consider investing in digital technologies to build next-gen offerings and streamline business and IT operations, using SaaS software and agile methodologies to analyze and understand overall market demands, business requirements, customer data, and real-time delivery needs. It’s certain there is opportunity for companies to evolve in these challenging times.

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Anand Ramani

Anand Ramani

Director R&D

A senior professional with more than 20 years of experience in the telecom BSS domain, Anand is passionate about adapting newer technologies and building digital products. He heads the company’s R&D activities for core products such as Digital BSS, WiFi, and AAA.

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Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

 

25th of February 2020

 

 

 

What do customers want? This is a million-dollar question – customer experience (CX) tops the list of differentiators that will give communications service providers (CSPs) an edge – and the answer’s constantly evolving. What’s indisputable is that digital transformation has meant customers are savvier and more self-reliant than ever, and they expect more control over their accounts. They want to manage all facets of their accounts using the social platform/s and apps they find most convenient, not necessarily legacy channels like IVR. Most importantly, they will remain loyal to a service provider that delivers a simple, interactive, seamless, personalized, digital, omnichannel self-care experience.

 

Research reveals that companies with robust omnichannel engagement boast an 89% customer retention rate; for companies with weak omnichannel strategies, on the other hand, that number is merely 33%. And customer retention is only the tip of the iceberg. Offering omnichannel digital engagement also means increased automation, workforce optimization, lower marketing and sales spending, reduced burden on call centers, and accelerated inbound leads – all of which improve revenue.

The evolution of self-care

More conventional forms of self-care such as SMS, USSD, search options on the website and FAQs have been around for years, and almost all operators offer at least one of these. However, their scope is limited and they do not support personalized responses based on the customer’s unique issues. IVR with live agents and email support address this limitation, but resolving issues takes hours, sometimes days. Customers no longer want to wait indefinitely for a response from customer care agents. In fact, in a survey conducted by Nuance Communications, 67% of respondents prefer self-service versus speaking directly to a customer care representative.

 

Customers today expect their concerns to be addressed immediately and like to follow the progress of their requests in real-time. Modern self-care solutions let operators respond automatically, any time of day or night, using cost-efficient AI chatbots. These chatbots have the capability to converse in multiple languages, and they use NLP to recognize and demonstrate human emotion. They are available for channels like live chat, web self-care, mobile apps, popular voice assistants like Alexa and Google, social media platforms like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Twitter, Facebook, and more.

 

Omnichannel experience means not only seamless switching but also smart channel integration, such as directing to IVR in a mobile app when customers are unable to solve problems and to follow-up when promised response times are exceeded. Customers can also choose between a chatbot and a live agent.

 

Self-care also includes advanced analytical tools that ensure a personalized experience for customers.

 

Some self-care operations include:

 

  • Digital self-onboarding with digital KYC
  • Number selection
  • Personalizing plans
  • Activating connections
  • Purchasing add-ons
  • Paying bills, even for others
  • Gifting and sharing balances
  • Viewing and managing rewards points
  • Real-time proactive alerts and notifications
  • Managing family members and parental controls

 

Of course, implementing modern self-care is enhanced by a modern digital BSS that defines automated workflows for each type of request, and can keep customers up to speed with the progress of their complaint through notifications on multiple channels.

How customer self-sufficiency spells success

Modern automated self-care may be considered a customer-focused offering, but operators benefit just as much as their subscribers do. It significantly reduces costs compared to phone-based self-service. Recent statistics show the benefits of AI-powered chatbots versus traditional IVR systems in resolving customer queries:

 

  • 80% of routine questions are answered by chatbots, freeing up agents for more productive work
  • 30% reduction in customer service costs
  • 50% decrease in call volume

 

And early entrants are already seeing results. Vodafone Italy, for instance, has reported that after introducing its conversational chatbot, 66% of its customer contacts were automated, reducing human contact, lowering the average number of times a customer contacted them by 15%, and 19% year-on-year reduction in customer operations costs.

Top 6 benefits of omnichannel self-care for operators

 

Automated Processes
Modern self-care means automation, and automation means lower costs. Chatbots and automated self-care reduce customer calls to CSRs, lowering call center operational costs. Automated self-onboarding lets customers use their mobile devices to create an account, upload their KYC documents, sign an e-contract, activate services, and track delivery of their SIM. The entire process can be completed in just a few minutes and is paperless, reducing costs and simplifying customer acquisition. By accelerating inbound leads, operators can optimize their workforce, allowing them to focus on other aspects of the business.

 

Easy Account Management
Customers can keep track of their digital interactions and self-manage their accounts, including plans, services, and groups, which reduces reliance on CSRs and/or walk-ins to physical stores. Further, this feature increases transparency, improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

 

Personalized Promotions and Offerings
Intelligent analytics and machine-learning techniques aid in subscriber profiling and monitoring conversion rates, content usage trends and network activity. Detailed insights into the customer’s behavior and preferences enable operators to promote offers tailored to the subscriber’s needs. CSPs receive detailed reports about the percentage of customers who like or dislike offers proposed to them and can also determine which customers are happy with their network offerings. These insights, when further processed, are often converted into mobile campaigns and help operators in targeting customers effectively on a large scale, helping reduce sales and marketing costs.

 

Easy Purchases and Payments
Contextual advertisements help target the right customers. UI-focused self-care also displays all available services, offers, and promotions clearly, making it easier and quicker for customers to make purchases and renewals. And the purchasing experience is simplified by offering multiple payment options using secure payment gateways. Consumption data enables tracking customer groups that are high-maintenance versus those that can serve themselves, those who are price-sensitive, those who upgrade their plans frequently, and so on. With these reports, operators can offer incentives and discounts, and implement cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

 

Customer-Centric Use Cases
Customer-centric offerings put the customer in the driver’s seat, enabling them to purchase plans, top-ups, value-added services like unlimited and tiered plans, bandwidth on demand, data gifting, parental controls, personalized incentives, loyalty rewards, and more. Having more control over their accounts boosts customer experience both before and after the sale and drives repeat business, ensuring customer loyalty and improving overall business growth.

 

Multichannel and Multilingual Support
The importance of enabling customers to engage with their service providers using their platform and language of choice cannot be stressed enough. Customers can address queries and ensure swift complaint redressal, as well as receive proactive alerts and notifications, through the channel that’s most convenient for them. And while this enhances customer experience, it also reducing reliance on more conventional methods like CSRs and physical stores, helping reduce sales, marketing, and operational costs.

Differentiation and Personalization are Key

To conclude, service differentiation not only includes delivery and customer service but also letting subscribers access, manage and configure plans or services from anywhere and on any device, through an experience that’s been customized based on their needs and preferences. Omnichannel self-care stands out amongst the top offerings for operators to stay ahead of the competition.

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Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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Alepo Shortlisted for Digital Transformation Award by Telecoms World Middle East

  • Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on September 24, as part of the two-day Telecoms World Middle East conference in Dubai
  • This is the second consecutive year Alepo has been shortlisted for a Telecoms World Middle East award
  • The nomination recognizes Alepo’s success in its own complete digital transformation, thus benefiting the telecommunications industry, particularly in the Middle East
  • The transformation has helped Alepo achieve faster project delivery, better development cadence, and the ability to do more remotely
  • Results of the transformation have been evidenced by key announcements including a comprehensive digital BSS, one of the industry’s first 5G core solutions, and a cloud-native version of Alepo’s Carrier WiFi

Tuesday, August 13, 2019, DUBAI – Digital enablement and revenue management software provider Alepo has been shortlisted for the 2019 Telecoms World Middle East Awards in the digital Transformation – Vendor category. The shortlisting recognizes Alepo’s success in the Digital transformation of its own products, processes, and tools – a transformation that has benefited the telecommunications industry, particularly in the Middle East region.

Winners will be announced on September 24 at an awards ceremony as part of the two-day Telecoms World Middle East conference to be held in Dubai.

“We’re thrilled Telecoms World Middle East recognizes our team’s efforts and dedication to digital transformation. It is a testament to our longstanding commitment for self-improvement and our mission to give operators of all sizes the ability to harness leading technologies,” said Derrick Gross, President, Alepo.

Alepo’s nomination is supported by key milestones from the last year including several new product releases, automation of its testing processes, and significant reduction of delivery efforts and timelines. Most significantly, Alepo has introduced a new comprehensive digital BSS platform, with capabilities like omnichannel customer experience, open APIs, rapid configurations, and modularization of the legacy codebase.

The BSS player has also introduced one of the industry’s first 5G core (5GC) solutions, providing authentication and subscriber management for 5G networks. The 5GC works alongside the digital BSS to monetize and deliver 5G services such as IoT and network slicing.

In addition, Alepo released a cloud-native version of its AAA solution and has since upgraded a tier-1 telco in the Middle East to its virtualized AAA – a unique deployment in that all professional services were performed remotely.

Vishal Mathur, Vice President – Solution Integration at Alepo, said, “Digital transformation is not only about technology, but also about culture, processes, and people. This is what we mean when we talk about a holistic approach and this is what we have implemented. Seeing the impact of our own transformation on our customers is truly gratifying.”

With over 1,000 attendees, 200 speakers, and 600 telcos, the annual Telecoms World Middle East Awards and conference bring together the technology, media, and telecom ecosystem to discuss and acknowledge technological developments in telecommunications. Alepo has been shortlisted from a list of eminent vendors operating in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and North Africa.

About Telecoms World Middle East

Entering its fifteenth consecutive year in Dubai, Telecoms World Middle East is the go-to event for CXOs from across the TMT industry who want to learn how technology, innovation, variation, and partnerships can transform and diversify the future of telecommunications.

The two-day conference hosts over 1,000 attendees, 200 speakers, 75 sponsors and exhibitors from the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, Central, and South Asia.

For more information, please visit Telecoms World Middle East 2019

About Alepo