Driving more value from every customer experience
Today’s telecommunications industry looks nothing like it used to. With the rapid shift to work-from-home and hybrid workforces, service providers initially saw great gains. However, as that shift has normalized, it has subsequently created a new set of challenges fueled by higher customer expectations and more competitive product and service offerings.
With more options for communication and broadband services and with little to no switching costs, customers now have the power to change service providers whenever it suits their needs. That means providers have to win over customers at every customer experience touchpoint—or risk losing them to competitors with better CX. Every touchpoint has a direct impact on loyalty, customer lifetime value and top-line growth.
At the same time, service providers are being asked to do more with less. During the global pandemic, providers invested in virtual agents to handle basic inquiries and manage high call volumes. As a result, agents now spend more time dealing with the more complex requests. That rise in complexity—coupled with outdated tools and training—is driving agent attrition up and customer experience down. Those agents who remain are expected to deliver fast, frictionless service that grows revenue and customer lifetime value. In other words, to transform what has traditionally been a cost driver into a value center. Given the current situation, telecom providers should focus on three key areas:
This playbook explains how — using advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation across these three different strategic plays — contact centers can flip the switch to becoming a value center and gain a lasting competitive advantage in the new telecommunications marketplace.
Unlocking the full value of every conversation
Before we discuss the three contact center plays to optimize customer experience, it’s important to understand how the new conversational AI technology that makes them possible is different than the simple point solutions that telecoms have adopted in the past (and that many continue to use).
Customer service will always be about conversations, whether they are digital or voice. That includes not only the words spoken but also the behaviors, intents and emotions expressed by the speaker. Without the ability to understand the end-to-end conversation (i.e., before, during and after) and connect both verbal and nonverbal cues to their relevant actions and knowledge, point solutions are unable to bring about the type of contact center transformation that telecoms need to make significant leaps in customer satisfaction and loyalty.
That’s why a conversation-centric, platform-based approach that integrates the latest advances in conversational AI, emotion AI, knowledge AI, automation and analytics is the better approach. By understanding the entire conversation, a conversation-centric AI platform can optimize customer and agent experience and deliver significant, measurable business value.
Top challenges for telecom services
of customers switch telco providers due to bad customer service*
switched providers because their issue wasn't resolved in the first call (i.e., poor FCR)*
of customers would be willing to spend more with companies that offered excellent CX**
1 in 3
customer service reps is at risk of turning over due to poor agent experience***
Understanding what’s inside a conversation-centric AI platform
The three plays described in this ebook rely on a conversation-centric AI platform that combines multiple technologies to enable understanding, optimization, and automation of end-to-end conversations in virtually any language.
Core capabilities for a conversation-centric AI platform
Throughout the rest of this ebook, whenever we mention specific technologies such as conversational AI, NLP, RPA, or others, we’re referring to these capabilities within a conversation-centric AI platform.
“Our priority is we’ve got to protect the base that we have. We’ve got to be
able to protect and grow our ARPU. We’ve got to compete appropriately but
not irresponsibly, to try to drive subscriber volume. [Mobile] is a very good value to the consumer, if you look at our service plan pricing attached to a
compelling broadband proposition.“
Source: Jason Armstrong, CFO & Treasurer, Comcast, Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, 2023
Play #1: Focus on Customer Loyalty and Retention
Growing the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) of your existing customer base is the most efficient way to drive revenue growth—significantly faster and more cost effective than new customer acquisition. In fact, research shows that it can cost 5 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer—with no guarantee on ROI—than to sell to an existing one. By contrast, returning customers spend 67% more on average than new ones. According to Bain & Company, a mere 5% increase in customer retention can grow profits by as much as 95%. That’s huge.
Consider this equation: CLV = ARPU x Months. There are two ways providers can grow CLV: 1. Increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) through upselling and cross-selling; and 2. Increase Months via excellent customer service that drives loyalty. While providers can’t always control ARPU, they can control their customer experience. By eliminating CX friction points, telco companies can reduce bad experience-related customer churn. And with 60 percent of customers considering switching providers after two or fewer bad experiences, CX is pivotal to CLV growth.*
With a conversation-centric AI platform that understands customer intent and sentiment, your company can zero in on the three pillars of customer loyalty and
retention: upselling and cross-selling (upstream retention), customer experience and proactive churn reduction (downstream retention).
*Source: CCW Study
Play #2: Increase Operational Efficiency and Effectiveness
A conversation-centric AI platform optimizes every conversation by minimizing the amount of manual effort required, enabling agents to be more productive and empathetic while personalizing the experience for customers. It also streamlines time-consuming processes and post-call tasks, like After-Call Work (ACW) and promise management, through automation.
With conversational AI and analytics, you can leverage conversational data to improve operational processes and eliminate friction points that drive up call effort, time and cost.
Play #3: Optimize Agent Lifecycle and Employee Experience for Faster Proficiency and Better Retention
The telecom industry has long struggled with high agent attrition rates. While estimates vary, roughly 1 in 3 customer service reps is at risk of turning over, according to research by Gartner. Given the resources invested in agent recruiting, training and onboarding, that number represents a significant hit to a contact center’s bottom line. It also impacts a center’s ability to consistently deliver excellent customer service, with fewer fully proficient agents available to assist customers.
A better customer experience starts with a better agent experience. Your company can use a conversation-centric AI platform to improve agent experience by accelerating training and onboarding, assisting agents during live interactions and automating manual processes and knowledge searches that fuel agent stress and attrition.
AI-optimized operations = real cost savings
A $213 billion telecommunications company with 40,000+ agents around the globe was struggling with long average handle times. The problem: manual call summarization was grinding after-call work to a crawl and creating reporting inconsistencies. The solution: call summary automation powered by conversational AI.
Reduction in after-work call
Increase in call summary accurarcy
Seconds cut from repeat calls on average
Agent experience matters now more than ever
With more remote work options available, contact center agents today are more likely to switch employers based on agent experience.
1 in 3
customer service reps is at risk of turning over
Disengaged agents are 87% more likely to look for a new job
is the average cost to replace a contact center agent
In today’s hyper-competitive telecommunications market, one thing is clear: telecom companies must do more to retain those customers going forward and grow ARPU. This requires taking bigger, bolder steps than ever before to improve the customer and agent experience.
Conversational AI can be the foundation for optimizing every conversation to transform the customer and agent experience, drive customer satisfaction, and generate greater loyalty and revenue. An AI platform that addresses the entire customer conversation can help your telecom contact center deliver a positive, frictionless experience for your customers and agents.
Take the next step and find out more about conversational AI and how a conversation-centric AI platform can help you solve your customer service challenges.