Contact center and voice assistants
Jun 23, 2021
7 MIN READ

Telecom is Dialing in Voice Assistants for Superior Customer Service

Telecom companies are one of the largest implementers of voice AI solutions in contact and customer service centers. As early adopters, leading telecom companies have recognized the ability of conversational voice AI to provide faster, more convenient customer service that leads to greater customer loyalty. Although leaders in the Telecom sector are focused on providing omnichannel experiences and monetization of their voice AI investment, their number one goal is to offer maximum convenience and functionality to customers.

Already, nearly half (48%) of telecom companies are deploying voice assistants to improve the customer experience in their contact centers, according to a report by Opus Research. In fact, leaders in the telecom and financial services industries reported 4 times the rate of adoption of voice assistants in contact centers compared to the other industries included in the survey. Only the transportation industry was close with a rate of 33% of companies reporting a voice solution for customer service.

Spending projections in telecom are in line with goals for omnichannel voice experiences. According to Statista, global spending in the telecom sector is expected to reach $1,565 billion by the end of 2021. 

In all industries, legacy IVR systems with long, clunky menus are no longer meeting customers’ needs and consumers are increasingly demanding faster, easier, and less frustrating methods of getting answers to their questions and resolving issues with products and services. In response, telecom companies—and others—are putting conversational voice technology on their company roadmaps and seeking ways to shorten the development cycle to get them implemented across channels. While many organizations started with voice-enabled mobile apps, the contact center is quickly rising as the next channel for voice AI adoption.

If you’re looking to voice-enable a customer service center, or need to improve your voice user interface, here are 5 benefits of customized conversational voice experiences:

  • Increased personalization
  • Conversational interactions
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Enhanced security
  • Omnichannel experiences

Voice assistants offer personalized experiences

According to a study by Microsoft, 58% of consumers will switch companies because of poor customer service. Similarly, a report by Hubspot stated that 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service. Given these findings, companies can hardly afford to ignore the customer experience in call centers—often the main point of contact between a company and its customers.

Leaders in the telecom industry understand this correlation and are implementing conversational assistants that eliminate the need to push buttons in response to an exhausting and frustrating series of prompts that only partially address the reason for the call. In fact, according to the Opus Research Study, 83% of telecom leaders stated that better customer experiences are a top end-user benefit of voice assistants and improved customer support is a top business value of voice AI.

Unlike the robotic responses in place in many IVR systems, conversational voice AI offers personalized experiences from the beginning of the conversation. Instead of asking callers to repeat identifying information through the call, voice assistants can make interactions more personal and efficient by recognizing the phone number of the caller and associating it with the name and profile on record. Even in the case of a new call, the voice AI only needs to collect the information once and that information can be shared with a live agent, should the call need to be forwarded. 

Using a voice assistant, a routine call to a customer service center might sound something like this: 

Voice AI: “Thank you for calling [company name]. Am I speaking to Sara?”

Customer: “Yes, that’s me.”

Voice AI: “Great, how can I help you today, Sara?”

By immediately recognizing the caller and incorporating their name into the conversation, the customer feels heard and understood. Conversational voice AI also skips several long and complex menu options that legacy IVR systems require the user to navigate, and instead gets straight to the customer’s question with a personalized experience. A study by Single Grain discovered that 80% of respondents are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences, showing that conversational AI has a direct impact on customer loyalty and revenue. 

80% of respondents are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.

Single Grain

Conversational AI is a natural interaction

Conversational voice AI can eliminate much of the frustration many people experience with legacy IVR systems by saving time and allowing callers to speak just as they would to another human. In some cases, speaking to a voice assistant may be more desirable as the experience could help eliminate embarrassment for callers. In fact, a report by Capgemini discovered that 42% of customers said they are more comfortable discussing personal details and issues with a voice assistant than with another person or friend. 

42% of customers said they are more comfortable discussing personal details and issues with a voice assistant than with another person or friend. 

Capgemini

Let’s compare the same question poised to an IVR system and a conversational voice assistant. An IVR system interaction may look like this:

“Press 1 for billing

Press 2 for plan details

Press 3 to find a location”

Customer: Presses 1

“Please enter your account number followed by the pound sign.”

Customer: Enters account number.

“Thank you.

Press 1 for your latest statement

Press 2 to pay a bill”

Customer: Presses 2

“Your latest bill is $75.65. Please enter your credit card number.”

Here’s the same interaction with a conversational voice AI:

Voice AI: “How can I help you today, Sara?”

Customer: “I would like to pay my bill.”

Voice AI: “Sure! Your latest bill is $75.65. Would you like to pay with the card ending in 7650?”

Customer: “Yes please.”

The conversational voice AI is faster, more convenient, interactive, and gives the customer a better experience. What takes six steps in the IVR system, takes only two for the conversational voice AI. Through advancements in speech technology, such as Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), voice AI is also able to understand complex queries and compound questions, providing a superior customer experience.

Houndify Telecom Infographic

Voice AI reduces telecom operational costs

Over 60% of multi-channel conversations between brands and their customers eventually involve telephones, according to Opus Research. While contact centers normally operate at a fairly high volume, The Los Angeles Times reported that during the pandemic, there was a significant increase in wait time due to approximately 25% fewer call center agents answering the phone, even though call volume remained steady. The negative impact of increased wait times can have lasting effects on customer satisfaction with a brand.

Over 60% of multi-channel conversations between brands and their customers eventually involve telephones. 

Opus Research

Conversational voice AI can decrease wait times and increase resolution rates by handling queries that don’t require a human operator, allowing contact center employees to spend their time on more valuable tasks. A report from Capgemini stated that 66% of businesses reported a greater than 20% reduction in the number of calls to customer service due to the implementation of voice assistants, proving that voice assistants can reduce operational costs and increase customer satisfaction.

Voice assistants enhance telecom security

Enhancing security measures through voice AI has become an imperative for brands, according to a Capgemini report, which lists telecom as among the most susceptible industries to cyber fraud. In fact, a Cyber-Telecom Crime Report 2019 reported that $32.7 billion is lost in telecom fraud annually. Conversational voice AI can help by monitoring and detecting irregular patterns in behavior and flagging alerts upon detection of such activity. 

$32.7 billion is lost in telecom fraud annually.

Cyber-Telecom Crime Report 2019

Dan Miller, Lead Analyst & Founder of Opus Research, and Matt Smallman, Director of SymNex Consulting talked about the necessity of intelligent authentication for contact centers in the webinar “Getting Contact Center Authentication Right in 2021”. During the webinar, they discussed how voice assistants can help save time and decrease frustration by simply matching the phone number with the customer’s profile without the need for the customer to re-authenticate once they’ve logged in to a website or mobile app.

Recent advancements have made it possible for a customer’s voice to be used as a multifactor authentication method, avoiding knowledge-based authentication, which is more susceptible to fraud. The implementation of conversational voice assistants in the contact center is one way technology can make the telecom industry more secure and reduce the likelihood of fraud and security breaches—thereby increasing customer loyalty and revenue.

Telecom is poised for omnichannel experiences

With 96% of telecom leaders stating that customer service is the main business function of voice assistants, according to the Opus Research Study, the telecom industry should capitalize on as many channels as possible to serve their customers. In addition to contact centers, voice assistants can also be on smart speakers, mobile apps, and websites, meeting the customers where they are when they need it. 

96% of telecom leaders state that customer service is the main business function of voice assistants.

Opus Research Study

Telecom leaders have been meeting market demand for more privacy and better experiences by entering into the smart speaker arena. Recently Deutsche Telekom released their smart speaker, Magenta, that has all of the functionality and none of the security issues of the big smart speaker providers currently on the market. 

Mobile apps and websites are opportunities for telecom companies to implement custom voice assistants with branded wake words that help their customers access information, pay bills, and get the support they need. By incorporating voice assistants across channels, telecom companies will also be able to achieve the consistent brand experiences they seek.

In the Opus Research Survey, telecom leaders said the future outlook for voice is consistent customer experiences. Conversational voice AI can improve customer support in contact centers for the telecom industry by providing personalized experiences, natural interactions, reduced operational costs, enhanced security, and omnichannel experiences. Telecom companies are realizing the benefits of a fast, convenient, conversational voice AI experience and are making voice assistants a key part of their strategy to stay ahead of the competition and offer superior customer experiences.  

Interested in learning more about voice assistants in the telecom industry? Check out our infographic, Contact Centers and Mobile Apps Get a Boost from Voice AI

Recently, Opus Research published a research report based on a global survey of 320 business leaders in 8 industries conducted to get the pulse of the state of voice assistant implementation and the trends toward custom voice AI solutions. You can read the report in its entirety and see the on-demand webinar to learn, “The Business Value of Customized Voice Assistants”.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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