July 10, 2020
Categorized: Artificial Intelligence
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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.