How artificial intelligence can assist telecoms for customer retention

Customer care at Warid TelecomTelecom operators have started using artificial intelligence (AI) technology capabilities that process and analyze real-time customer data to recommend and automatically trigger the next best action.

Ooredoo, a top telecom operator in the Middle East, is investing in artificial intelligence technology to ensure next-generation customer experience to its mobile phone users in Qatar – as part of its digital strategy.

Customer churn

Churn in customer base in a major concern area for telecom operators.

Vodafone India faced 4.8 percent churn in fiscal 2017 as compared with 4.3 percent n fiscal 2016 due to competition. Churn of post-paid customers was 1.9 percent against 1.8 percent. Churn of pre-paid users was 5 percent against 4.5 percent. Vodafone India had 209.1 million wireless customers across the country.

Indian telecom operator Idea Cellular said the churn increased to 6.1 percent in Q4 fiscal 2017 from 4.7 percent in Q4 fiscal 2016. Post-paid churn from Idea Cellular subscribers rose to 3.6 percent from 2.9 percent, while pre-paid churn increased to 6.2 percent from 4.8 percent.

Nokia’s tenth Acquisition and Retention Study examines the main reasons why mobile customers select and leave operators: cost and billing, network quality, customer care and service and device portfolio.

According to the Nokia survey, respondents say customer care has 60 percent more impact on their loyalty than it did in 2014. Respondents say better general services, self-service capabilities and effective complaint handling are important to them. Customer care is basically on par with network quality as a deciding factor to stay with a mobile provider.

Ooredoo has selected Nokia-owned Comptel to implement Comptel’s Fastermind to improve customer engagements through artificial intelligence.

Deployment of Comptel’s Fastermind solution enables Ooredoo Qatar to offer more relevant and personalised notifications and real-time responses to service requests, promotions and more to its mobile customers.

“Very soon we will have the ability to reach our customers in real-time, with the right messages, and interact more dynamically than ever to deliver what they need when they need it,” said Waleed Al-Sayed, chief executive officer of Ooredoo Qatar.

37 percent of CTOs and CIOs interviewed by EY see disruptive competition as the single greatest strategic challenge facing the telecom sector, according to the report called Digital transformation for 2020 and beyond.

The report said 39 percent of survey respondents identified customer experience as their number one focus area and 61 percent said it’s one of their top-three initiatives. Digital business models emerged as the biggest strategic priority for 24 percent of those surveyed and a top-three priority for 71 percent of respondents.

“If operators are to make the most of the 5G era from 2020 onwards, they must take bolder steps to overhaul legacy business models and form more dynamic customer relationships,” said Prashant Singhal, EY Global Telecommunications Leader.

Growth of artificial intelligence

Tulika Saxena, senior manager, Business Research & Advisory, Aranca, a research and advisory firm, says automation of tasks such as mobile network monitoring, network maintenance, deployment of network management tools and network service provisioning can be achieved by incorporating AI techniques in the 5G networks.

A recent Gartner survey said Asia Pacific CEOs believe that conventional technologies such as cloud, ERP, analytics and CRM will help them, rather than technologies that support digital transformation (digital environments, blockchain, the Internet of Things [IoT], robotics, artificial intelligence [AI] and 3D printing).

Artificial Intelligence solutions are moving towards explanations that humans can easily understand; from how an input is interpreted to why the machines recommended that result.

FirstAlign utilizes AI to constantly update content in keeping organization’s vision and business objectives aligned. AI detects hidden signals, adopts different points of view, separates fact from fiction, and sees how your reputation is actually shaped.

ICT industry research company Gartner finds that technologies such as artificial intelligence are not making any impact on growth of devices such as smartphones. Overall smartphone shipments will grow 5 percent in 2017, reaching nearly 1.6 billion units.

Technology vendors are looking at ways to add new capabilities that can give their products an edge in the market. “Many new technologies — such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual personal assistants (VPAs) — will grow in adoption, yet it is difficult to see any revolutionary impact in early iterations,” said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner.

A recent survey on business technology deployment by ABI Research said only 5 percent of respondents have artificial intelligence systems in operation, while nearly 8 percent indicate that they expect to deploy such systems within 12 months. ABI Research surveyed 455 U.S.-based key decision makers and influencers from nine industry verticals.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com