Artificial Intelligence

Telstra turns AI into digital transformation

Share this post:

Author: Shabana Yunus, Project Manager, Account Based Marketing(ABM), IBM Global Markets

Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, is undergoing a massive digital transformation, and at the heart of their efforts are customers.

With a presence in 20 countries, in Australia, the telco provides 18.3 million retail mobile services, 3.7 million retail fixed bundles and standalone data services and 1.4 million retail fixed standalone voice services. They also handle 50 million customer service calls a year.

Transforming customer service with AI

Transforming Telstra’s customer service began by infusing AI into one customer-facing chatbot and has since expanded to multiple internal and external use cases, which have collectively saved an estimated ten million dollars and boosted their NPS (Net Promoter Score.)

Before undertaking their AI journey, Telstra was predominantly a voice contact centre. But with 50 million customer service enquiries each year, they were looking for new ways to streamline the process, ensuring customers were getting the information they needed and minimising the information gap. An information gap that’s particularly important to fill when it comes to complex products in an ever-changing tech landscape.

Telstra’s first piece of AI technology is called Codi and was initially a routing bot developed to understand a customer’s need and direct them to a live chat agent. With the help of IBM Watson, Codi has since evolved into a digital concierge who can offer customers answers in real-time.

The Telstra and IBM partnership

Telstra partnered with IBM in 2019, to enhance Codi’s capabilities as a Virtual Agent by:

  • Fine-tuning Codi’s natural language engine and
  • Working together on Codi’s strategic design, methodology, functionalities and user experience

Telstra’s Nicole Hein, Technical Product Owner and one of our Women Leaders in AI, shares that by “using Watson, we’re able to identify specific enquires and get our customers the right help. Since launch, we’ve seen a reduction in agent handling time, a reduction in traffic to our chat, messaging and call centres, and increased adoption of our digital self-service tools.”

Having identified a range of potential use cases for Virtual Agents like Codi, Telstra have expanded their chatbot network. Around nine chatbots operate within a variety of functions, from an ACE bot assisting field service engineers with troubleshooting to product-specific bots, like Simmo, tasked to answer questions about pre-paid products.

Telstra is now looking to expand into voice bots and AI integration into human resources, all to automate responses to provide a seamless interaction with their customers.

Paul Rilstone, Head of Assisted Digital, Telstra explains that the relationship between IBM and Telstra has evolved over time. “We went from a set-and-forget mentality when we first delivered Codi to we’re now in this partnership where we speak to IBM two, three times a day. We’ve got them embedded in our team.” The Telstra and IBM close partnership is now helping to shape the future using AI & automation.

You can access further information on how your business can prepare for and harness the power of AI here. Or watch our Fireside Chat: How Telstra Turned AI Aspirations into a Digital Transformation with Paul Rilstone here.

More Artificial Intelligence stories

New ways of working are here to stay thanks to COVID-19

While video calls with our colleagues might be the norm right now, COVID-19 has forever changed the way every industry works. Business, as we know it, will never be the same post-COVID-19. Companies all around the world have been pivoting with unprecedented speed as they adapt to new ways of working in a bid to […]

Continue reading

A new AI agent gives voice to a Samoan community

Author: Steve O’Donnell, IBM New Zealand’s Managing Partner for Global Business Services An AI-powered agent named Tala may open the door on a new way of measuring sentiment and getting feedback from New Zealand’s ethnic communities. Developed and designed by Beca, one of Asia Pacific’s largest advisory, design and engineering consultancies, The Talanoa Project is […]

Continue reading

Breathing new life into iconic moments

Author: Adam Makarucha, AI Practitioner and IBM Q Ambassador, IBM Systems The 70s and 80s were full of iconic moments, religious and royal visits, unique styles (who can forget the flares) and vibrant colour. Looking back, however, some of these historic Australian moments were only ever captured on film in black and white. Not because […]

Continue reading