There is no doubt that chatbots are becoming increasingly important to mobile operators.

Gartner predicts that by 2021 50% of enterprises will spend more on chatbots and chatbot creation than on mobile app development. Telecommunication firms are well positioned to benefit from this business.

Chatbots for telcos will cover two main areas.

  • The first area is proprietary bots that they use for their own purposes. These bots will be internal to their employees, or externally facing to their customers.
  • The second area is bots that partners create on top of the telco’s infrastructure. These bots will allow partners to provide specific services to the subscribers of the telco.

Let’s first consider chatbots that the telecom uses for its own purposes

Consumers of telecom services need to interact with the service provider for various issues. These include recharging accounts, paying for services, querying services, getting technical support, and adding or removing / services. For every issue, both parties face difficulties. The consumer, for instance, has to interact with a different set of individuals for different queries. The service provider, on the other hand, has to deal with managing such a large labor force, and specialised knowledge, in every department.

Chatbots are readily available to answer repetitive customer issues instantly, twenty-four hours a day. If a more difficult issue arises, the bot can seamlessly transfer the customer to a human representative for further assistance.

This makes everyday interactions faster, easier and more convenient. And, most importantly, the solutions are cheaper for the operator.

The result is an enhanced customer experience and less reliance on human intervention, which reduces operational costs.

Today’s customers prefer self-service because of the convenience, consistency and speed.

They dictate the ‘when, where and how’ of communicating with organisations.

It’s about the experience: 82% of customers are likely to stop spending due to bad experience

Engaged customers are:
  • Likely to spend 300% more each year
  • 90% more likely to make frequent purchases
  • 7x more likely to respond to offers
  • 5x more likely to repeat purchases

Intelligent Chatbots can:
  • Answer up to 80% of routine questions
  • Reduce customer service costs by up to 30%

Of course, great care needs to be taken when implementing a chatbot solution to ensure that it enhances customer experiences and does not make it worse. Telco’s need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of chatbots and implement them accordingly.

Let’s explore some of the ideas in detail

Smart Alerts

Chatbots can help customers easily top-up their voice or data balances when they have run out. Even better, they can alert the customer beforehand and allow them to make provision to ensure they never run out.

Chatbots can send scheduled alerts to customers, personalized to their individual profile.

Instead of just sending out a notification, users can interact with the chatbot to get more information or to perform actions.

Chatbots can also request information from customers for example information to complete their user profile. This user profile data is highly valuable to the Telco and third parties.

Not only will these proactive interactions enhance customer experience, but it can also promote additional sales.

Customer Service

Customers expect call centres to be available around the clock. Chatbots can make this a reality by answering thousands of service requests at a time.

Chatbots are capable of quickly answering simple queries, more efficiently than humans. They can engage consumers in personalized and relevant conversations. With connections to various systems at the backend, chatbots are privy to information that can help contextualize interactions and provide more value.

Significant value can be generated by gaining efficiency in the call centre and in significantly reducing costs.

Self-Service Account Management

It is possible to use chatbots to give customers control of the services provided.

Whether it is viewing balances, additional purchases or updating banking details, chatbots can provide a wide range of account services through personalized conversational interfaces. This not only provides an alternative communication channel, but it also enhances customer’ experience.

Customers can be empowered in a convenient way to manage their accounts and get things done, instantly.

Lead and Sales Management

Chatbot for mobile operators can grow digital sales potential. They can convert views into sales. Chatbots are valuable interactive tools for converting window shoppers into buyers in a short span of time.

They can be used to identify hot leads and can provide initial information to a potential customer and, as soon as a certain level of interest is detected. The bot can either direct the lead to a salesperson or to a dedicated landing page.

Chatbots can promote cross-selling. They can be used to initiate a conversation with an existing customer to offer additional products or services.

Chatbots can offer more valuable services. For example, SMS / Email based adverts can be linked to a chatbot for follow up questions or actions from the customer.

Chatbots for Operations

Let humans do what they do best and let the chatbots do the rest!

Employees spend many hours responding to repetitive calls and emails. They also spend time searching for internal applications to find specific information or to complete a task.

Chatbots take care of repetitive tasks and can provide agents with a single chat interface containing all the relevant information they need. Live agents can then be used only for the issues that demand more personalized attention.

This combination speeds up the process for the customer while improving operational efficiencies for the business.

There are many ways that chatbots can benefit a telco. With the above, we are just scratching the surface of applications.

The ideal use case for a chatbot is a task that an employee or customer does infrequently and is not too complex. The chatbot can effectively abstract the underlying systems for the user, i.e. the user has no knowledge of the systems they are using when they are completing a task.

In some ways, the chatbot can be viewed as an open and flexible workflow system on which tasks can be done directly (without needing to log in to the underlying system).

Of course, all companies can benefit from having chatbots either internally or externally. Telcos are unique in that they can offer chatbot functionality to partners.

Chatbots for Partners

Chatbots can be used by the partners of a telco on the telcos chatbot platform to sell services to or advertise to subscribers. Telcos have a unique advantage as they have a huge base of subscribers for which they have identified their identities. This gives partners access to a very valuable set of customers. Not only can the telecom company provide partners with access to a valuable customer base, they can provide chatbot add ons to the partners such as payment gateways or kyc verification.

In summary, chatbots are an immensely important channel for telcos as not only are they well suited for improving customer service to subscribers but they are ultimately a valuable tool for monetizing the partner network of the telco.

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