Why it’s time for CSPs to fully embrace the powers of AI

October 15, 2018

Posted by: Anasia D'mello

Andres Alvargonzalez of Nuance Communications

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are under pressure. Increased competition from Over-The-Top (OTT) providers as well as renewed regulatory scrutiny are affecting traditional income sources, says Andres Alvargonzalez, marketing director, Nuance Communications.

Some argue that in an age of giant technological advances, CSPs only crudely act as the carrier of voice and data, without a broader relationship with their subscribers.

As well as remaining relevant to their customer base, CSPs are also negotiating regulatory hurdles and investing heavily in new technologies to keep up with the mobile generation’s unquenchable thirst for 4G and 5G.

Better customer experiences

Through the medium of Artificial Intelligence (AI) however, help is at hand. AI is helping to mitigate the pressures on CSPs by differentiating between customers’ online experiences, personalising each one.

With a deluge of data services flooding the market, there has never been a more critical time to treat customers as individuals. AI allows this. It creates new opportunities for better customer engagement across all channels.

Chatbots, virtual assistants, in-app messaging and two-way SMS, are just some of the new technologies available to customers and we are seeing them inadvertently change the communications landscape and overall consumer experience. These technologies are building relevant relationships, which promote personalised interactions and ‘stickiness’ through the collection of transaction footprints from customers, each time they log on.

By employing AI, CSPs are gaining deep insights into what is important to their subscribers and can then use it to predict their future shopping requirements. Intelligent systems recognise and remember historical buying patterns, then anticipate and act in advance to meet customer needs.

When properly deployed, AI can help CSPs deliver a significantly better customer experience, increase customer loyalty and facilitate the exploitation of every revenue opportunity. It enables automated processes to happen in the vast majority of customer interactions – across phone, web, text/SMS, mobile app, social media, and messaging channels. AI is proving it has the capability to automate effectively and build customer confidence in the technology behind CSPs.

CSPs can evolve with AI

Ultimately, the adoption of AI will see CSPs evolve from traditional telcos, wireless providers and cable operators to fully-fledged Digital Service Providers (DSPs).

It is important to remember, however, that AI does not represent a brave new world, entirely run by machines. While the most intelligent virtual assistants can leverage big data and human input to behave like ‘live’ magnets during customer interactions, the most advanced are integrated systems that recognise those limits and bring a human agent into the loop if needed.

In the best examples of AI and CSPs working seamlessly, these agents can then continue the conversation or transaction across channels with full knowledge of all the relevant context. The knock-on effect of conversational AI being deployed successfully within CSPs is not just limited to enhanced customer satisfactions. We are seeing significant reductions in CSP operating costs which are being readily redeployed throughout the businesses they serve.

It is clear that AI is delivering valuable results for those service providers who have recognised its potential – yet according to Gartner, only 4% of CIOs say that their organisation has deployed AI. A substantial increase in deployments is on the way though, as 20% of them say they are experimenting with, or have short-term plans for AI. As professionals working with AI every day we welcome these deployments and the innovations they champion.

The author of this blog is Andres Alvargonzalez, marketing director, Nuance Communications.

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