Operators are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) bots as a way to streamline customer service, but a new study suggests their focus areas don’t line up with consumer expectations.
A survey by Amdocs and Forrester Consulting of more than 7,000 consumers across 12 countries found customers’ top request for AI bots is the ability to deal with more complex requests. Greater personalisation and the ability to understand human emotions rounded out the top three improvement preferences.
However, service providers are investing elsewhere with 43 per cent prioritising increased information security and privacy, and 39 per cent focused on boosting speed of response. Under a quarter (23 per cent) of providers said they were investing to improve personalisation and 19 per cent said they’re focused on enabling more comprehensive services.
As Mobile World Live noted in a recent blog, Telefonica, for example, offers customers access to services including bill clarification and details of new services via a chatbot-based customer service agent Aura. Vodafone and Telia also have separate developments around AI and bots, as many operators globally implement the technologies as part of broader automation strategies.
While most operators have so far focused on using AI and bots in automation of labour intensive services including device management, simplifying back office procedures and improving customer retention by boosting loyalty, Shannon Bell, VP and head of Product Management and Strategy at Amdocs, told Mobile World Live operators will, in time, “add more use cases and leverage machine learning to drive smarter bot experiences”.
“As it’s early days for the widespread adoption of bots, [communication service providers] have been focusing on ensuring that the experience is positive,” she explained.
Customer interactions with bots is increasing, which will make the disconnect between operator and consumer expecations more apparent.
More than a third (35 per cent) of consumers interact with virtual agents at least once per week and 38 per cent of customers who have used a bot service reported they experienced problems but didn’t complain.
The findings also highlight operators may have to step up efforts to convince customers to actually use an AI service: 83 per cent of consumers would rather speak with a person due to a perception human agents can better understand their needs.
Bell said it is critical “CSPs recognise the importance of being able to seamlessly transfer the customer from the non-human ‘bot’ channel to a human channel when the customer is seeking to do something that the bot is not capable of.”
“This ensures that the customer experience remains positive, as their request is handled in their channel of choice and they don’t have to call the call centre or use another channel.”