Chatbots changing how telcos talk. Source: Shutterstock

Chatbots changing how telcos talk. Source: Shutterstock

Are chatbots really going to help telcos be more customer friendly?

DIGITAL transformation is bleeding into all industries. That is especially so for the telco sector that is at the heart of all digitization. Amongst other upgrades, telco companies are investing more on chatbots to keep businesses talking.

Digital transformation is the overhaul that businesses are undergoing to keep relevant, and the telco industry is the nervous system that keeps everything and everyone connected.

Forbes reported that Vodafone’s chatbot technology is helping it cut jobs. The British telco giant laid off over 900 full-time equivalent staffs in the first half of last year. Instead, robotic process automation (RPA) bots resolve issues at their shared service centers.

Vodafone uses similar technology to automate telephone conversations that customer experience agents would have with customers.

Its goal is to raise the present 1 percent of chatbot usage in its customer experience to 60 percent by March 2021.

Chatbots used to work through limited scripts prepared beforehand for customer inquiries. Artificial intelligence (AI) has completely moved chatbots away from command-driven services.

Now, chatbots are able to understand context and user intent much more accurately. The technology is able to answer frequently asked questions, assist on commands virtually, and even handle complex processes.

It is anticipated that 50 billion things will be connected by 2020.

Hong Kong-headquartered CITIC Telecom CPC Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Daniel Kwong explained that the statistics further.

“This represents a 23 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2014 and 2020, of which 40 percent is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region.”

Chatbot technology is maturing in the APAC market with more telco companies adopting AI-based technology.

Malaysian telco provider TIME dotCom launched its AI-based chatbot in September 2018.

“T-Bot helps us reach a happy medium between technological efficiency and human reasoning, boosting our query response rate and overall customer experience,” says Angelia Ooi, TIME’s Head of Marketing & Experience.

“This enables companies like TIME to harness and fine-tune data quickly to create highly personalized user experiences.”

This week, Telenor Myanmar launched its new AI-based chatbot. The introduction is aligned with the company’s focus on chatbots as one of its R&D areas to focus on in 2019.

Chan May Ling, Telenor Myanmar Head of Digital Services spoke about how the technology has impacted the business, besides improving efficiency.

“I believe this initiative has not only upgraded our services to the next level but also empowered our customers in the way they interact with advanced digital technology.”

Chatbots are moving businesses’ digital transformation journey quickly.

AI-based chatbots have advanced cognitive learning abilities that are going to change customer experience for all businesses.

This is on top of the obvious benefits like reducing the cost to serve and providing 24-hours availability to customers. A study shows that it has the potential to minimize cost to serve by 15 to 90 percent.

Digital transformation is changing how businesses deliver their values via technology. As the vehicle of change, the telco industry is also taking this opportunity to rebuild their market positions and innovate their services to consumers.