RECAP: Improving Customer Experience

Author: Derek Kerton, Managing Partner, The Kerton Group

With thanks to CableLabs for hosting us, today’s Comtech Forum meeting on the Customer Experience among Communication Service Providers was a view into the future of CE, featuring AI, machine learning, and proactive customer interactions. The content suggested that in the past, CSPs were mostly reactive in their customer service engagements — that is, a customer would call them when there was a problem, and the CSP would try to resolve it. Of course, that kind of engagement had moved to various channels from the classic 611 or phone call. Web, App, Chat, messaging, and Social Networks are all currently being used by various carriers to engage with customers, to solve problems, and to manage brand.

 

But starting with our speaker from Orange, Ashish Patel, we learned about how CSPs can use AI to improve the CE. AI can help solve problems before the customer calls, to reach out to subscribers, and to detect problems that may never have been noticed before. Also, AI can be applied to meet various objectives, from NPS to revenue growth in product categories.

 

Todd Parker, from Google, showed us how the messaging channel could be leveraged for greater reach. He proposes that customers want to be reached in the channels where they already spend their time: messaging. The data reveals a much higher “open” rate on messages sent to customers through the SMS channel. But Google is pushing it one step further, by embedding the RCS standard into the default messaging platform of most Android phones going forward. This allows carriers the reach and reliability of SMS, with the richness of RCS. Key to Google’s argument is speed, and a faster resolution of customer inquiries or carrier proactive engagements.

 

The entire room then engaged in a discussion around using AI to drive satisfaction and loyalty, kicked off by comments from Dr. Pandian Angaiyan, from Tech Mahindra on some AI technology they have installed with a few carriers worldwide. Some of the hot topics kicked around by all attendees were the questions of:

  • Do we need messaging channels, or can Notifications inside carrier apps do that task
  • Handover from an AI chatbot to a human
  • AI as support for a human CSR
  • Will proactive CE engagements really be a thing in the short term, or will we just stay reactive?
  • Even if the best experience for customer is AI chatbot, customer satisfaction is always higher if they are offered the option of “click here to talk to a human” — even if they don’t use it! Crowdcare CEO Ian Collins explained how putting the customer in control raises metrics like NPS.

 

As always, we wrapped up with a handful of interesting rapid fire presentations from a variety of startups. Many of these focused on proactivity, the use of machine learning and AI, but also on improvements in the network that will drive higher satisfaction among users. We even heard about how linking the carriers’ service to a customer’s favorite charity can drive greater loyalty and reduce churn.

As always, members can find today’s agenda, attendee list, presentations and photos from the day on the member library.  Elevator pitches from the startups demoing at today’s meeting are below:

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