By: Roni Dvir, Amdocs Digital, Intelligence and BSS
The Experience Expectations of Digital Consumers Are Evolving
With today’s customers becoming more and more digital in their mindset, behaviors, and expectations, the state of customer engagement is at an inflection point. These customers have become extremely knowledgeable about product and purchasing options, as well as competitive offerings. They are less tolerant of impersonal and irrelevant experiences, expect on-demand engagements and support, and are more self-sufficient, often preferring self-sufficiency. Furthermore, they have recently started shifting away from social broadcasting to more personal messaging.
In fact, messaging has become the preferred, even de-facto mode of communication for more than just the Y and Z generations. To illustrate, the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger at a billion monthly active users each, and WeChat at nearly 850 million.
To complicate matters further, digital disruptors such as Facebook, Uber, and Lending Club are introducing new customer engagement paradigms and transforming the relationships between businesses and their customers.
Accordingly, maintaining relevance with this new breed of digital consumer, offering the kind of experiences that they expect, and engaging with them in a way that addresses their well-informed, independent, and very digital lifestyle requires a new approach and a lot of intelligence.
Service Providers Are Turning to Bots to Innovate Digital Customer Engagement
According to Gartner, by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human intervention. Furthermore, by 2022, 72% of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology such as machine-learning, up from 11% in 2017.
Accordingly, this combination of growing self-sufficiency of the digital consumer, together with the increasing domination of mobile messaging and several technology breakthroughs, is reigning in the rise of the chatbot for customer engagement.
In addition, other trends that are providing the tailwind for the bot revolution include:
App fatigue: Most consumers are overwhelmed with apps, and have developed a very strong reluctance to downloading and trying new apps, preferring to converse on the messenger apps they’re already on.
Support from tech giants: For companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and others – supporting chatbots had become a long-term strategic initiative. Within one year of Facebook’s announcement of its Messenger chatbot framework in 2016, over 100,000 chatbots have been released. And, the market for messenger bots has grown to well over one billion people.
There are also internal forces at play – driving service providers to seek out a solution that will help them resolve multiple competing forces. These include: providing consistent experiences and processes despite the growing explosion of channels; driving efficiency and reducing costs via increased first contact resolution and shortened ticket cycles, but without impacting CSAT and NPS; and achieving a balanced approach between the self-service and human-assisted engagements, while raising the bar on customer experience.
Why Functional Chatbots Are Not Enough
The move towards consumers seeking (and service providers offering) more and more engagements through virtual agents, i.e. chatbots, is well underway.
Today, the most widespread chatbots are those that are used to answer simple questions, including basic product information or high-level support requests. These are ‘rule-based’ chatbots, which are programmed for pre-defined commands that are specific to the processes related to the request at hand. Accordingly, while adequately functional, this kind of chatbot can ultimately wind up bringing the opposite result from that which both the consumer and the service provider are seeking, since the chatbot is not prepared to handle such dynamic dialogues.
Service providers who want to add chatbots to their customer engagement arsenal, with the kind of capabilities that live up to the customer experience promise, would need to overcome the following strategic challenges. Namely:
Meeting te expectations of digital consumers for personalized conversations: The kind of simple engagements that is prevalent with chatbots today does not account for the digital consumer’s need for personalized and contextual conversations that address their specific needs, their own unique journey with the brand, and what kind of support would be best suited for them.
Overcoming the chasm that exists between virtual and live agents: Chatbots need to be able to both handle much more of the types of content that traditionally only live agents can handle; and, just as importantly, they need to be seamlessly integrated with channels handled by live agents, with a smooth handoff, when needed, that is transparent to the customer.
Making sure that chatbots don’t miss out on care-to-commerce opportunities: Service providers who leverage chatbots for simple support information-driven interactions will be is missing out on unique revenue generating opportunities. For, if the chatbot was ‘intelligent’ and could ‘know’ what each customer likes, needs, and wants – and could make the most relevant and timely marketing offer to address their needs, the service provider could then make a significant impact on the top line.
Ensuring that the chatbot ‘understands’ the telecom-specific intents of customers: A chatbot that lacks industry domain knowledge and telecom-specific intents will not be able to accurately and fully understand what the customer wants and needs. Nor, would the chatbot be able to effectively address and resolve.
Integrating the chatbot with mission critical business systems: Integration with systems such as Billing, Order Management, CRM, and more – is critical for accessing and leveraging a full, 360 customer profile. Without knowing what customers have purchased in the past and what their historical and current usage patterns are, the chatbot will not be able to provide the most relevant information and support.
Ensuring that the bot continually learns from every engagement is critical for making sure that forthcoming customer interactions and experiences are more finely attuned to each individual customer, and delivered with greater accuracy.
Amdocs SmartBot: An Intelligent Bot Solution
The first bot that is intelligence driven, re-designed and integrated for the communication and media industry.
This is an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-based bot that enables digital service providers (DSPs) to provide customer care, sales and marketing engagements and transform how they deliver highly personalized, contextual, self-service interactions with customers.
Amdocs SmartBot is telco-centric, channel agnostic and includes:
A core SmartBot application with business logic and API integration, to identify the incoming stream of text or voice from customers and submit the contents to the intent engine to identify the context. The application leverages built-in business logic to resolve issues, provide transactional support, and proactively and contextually engage with the customer. Furthermore, when needed – the SmartBot will hand-over the engagement to a live agent in the engagement center in a way that is seamless and transparent to customers.
Integrated Natural Language Processing (NLP) engines through the partnerships we have in place with Microsoft on LUIS and IBM on Watson, as well as with other industry leading NLP solution providers. NLP capabilities include sentiment analysis, tone analysis (voice), and vision (images and video), enabling the SmartBot to understand and converse with customers in an intuitive, human-like way.
Library of telco-specific intents and business processes, such as: view balance, make a payment, suspend device, inquire early termination fees, in addition to many more.
Pre-Integration with Amdocs CES, to provide a single source of truth for customer data, product and promotions and order management, which is critical for ensuring consistent and personalized experiences.
Amdocs SmartBot also leverages aia, Amdocs’ intelligence platform, to inject intelligence into every customer engagement, including NBO/NBA offers based on the customer profile, past behaviors, current context, and in alignment with the organizations’ marketing and customer care objectives. The integration with aia is a major differentiator in making Amdocs SmartBot an industry leader in its predictive capabilities and proactively delivering personalized engagements as the customer’s context changes throughout their journey.
The Intelligent Chatbot Advantage
For service providers:
- Reduced cost to serve by increasing self-service adoption rates, and decreasing average handling times;
- Increased revenues by automatically and intelligently identifying upsell/cross-sell opportunities and providing relevant and personalized offers;
- Increased CSAT and NPS.
- A better customer experience with natural, human-like conversations and a consistent experience across all channels and for all topics;
- The ability to engage with the service provider on their channel of choice; including text (Messenger, Kik, Skype, Slack, SMS, etc.) and voice (IVR, Alexa, etc.) channels
- Lowered response times to inquiries;
- Expedited resolutions to issues through proactive, intelligence-driven care.
Indeed, the bot revolution is here. But, only with intelligence infused into every bot engagement, will this revolution be a winning proposition for both consumers and service providers.
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