For years, communications service providers (CSPs) have faced regulatory and market pressures on traditional revenue streams as well as growing competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers. The battle to maintain standing, let alone increase sales and expand market share, is relentless.
To differentiate themselves from the crowd, providers must reconsider how they interact with their customers. With the deluge of data services flooding the market, it’s more important than ever to treat customers as individuals and build relationships through contextual, relevant, time-sensitive and personalized interactions. Through digital transformation, CSPs will see an evolution from traditional telcos, mobile operators and cable operators into full-fledged digital service providers (DSPs).
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) play an important role in this digital transformation for CSPs, creating new opportunities for better customer engagement across all channels. With the proliferation of touchpoints such as chatbots, virtual assistants, in-app messaging and two-way SMS, a powerful ecosystem is emerging that fundamentally changes the communications landscape.
When used correctly, AI helps DSPs deliver a much better customer experience, boosting customer loyalty. AI facilitates automated processes for a wide range of customer interactions across phone, web, text/SMS, mobile app, social media and messaging channels. Above all, AI has the ability to do this effectively and strengthen customer trust in non-human actors.
Here are three ways AI can support the digital transformation of CSPs:
1. Conversational virtual assistants. Voice-based applications can build two-way dialogues with customers, facilitating true omnichannel engagement. These digital assistants integrate with virtually any connected device, including car, smart TV/set-top box, mobile app and smart home technology, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. These assistants can help subscribers discover entertainment and other content offerings, as well as control connected devices.
2. Data insights. CSPs have collected vast amounts of data about their customer base, which can generate additional revenue. AI algorithms can analyze this data to advance knowledge of consumer behavior and create more precise and predictive personalization capabilities. By leveraging AI and machine learning, subscribers can receive targeted, relevant and time-sensitive individualized services at the right time through the right channel. This empowers proactive and highly relevant marketing that promotes providers as helpful and trustworthy partners in the eyes of subscribers. Ultimately, these capabilities strengthen the provider-subscriber relationship.
3. Exceptional customer service. The use of AI and data analytics can transform marketing efforts by providing detailed information about conversion rates of offers, subscriber profiles, content usage and network activity to create and place offers that are fine-tuned to individual customers. Expecting a high standard of personalized interaction, growing numbers of subscribers find it convenient to manage their relationship with their service provider through the mobile channel. To support this in their digital transformation, CSPs look to combine AI analytics and machine learning with technologies such as software-defined networking, virtualization and automation to deliver excellent customer service while reducing costs.
Smart, intuitive and efficient processes boost customer satisfaction and reduce operating costs. This provides opportunities to increase investment in product and service innovation. After all, digital transformation for CSPs must be built on a strong business case. With artificial intelligence, the return on investment can be clearly measured.
There’s no doubt that AI delivers valuable results for those service providers that have effectively realized its potential. While the number of companies that adopt AI on a regular basis is still few, a significant increase in use is expected.
The majority of CSPs see digital transformation as an immediate and important goal. Combined with AI, the effective and targeted delivery of information and entertainment services will help create almost unlimited monetization opportunities: music and video on demand, financial services, advertising, and smart-home and IoT-enabled services and applications in both buildings and vehicles. If you add those that haven’t been invented yet, the potential of digital transformation for CSPs and opportunities for growth are immense.