RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • This paper discusses how Vodafone has adopted WhatsApp, to exceed rising customer expectations and transform into a more customer-centric operator.
  • Consumers today demand seamless, hyper-relevant, zero-friction experiences to which they have become accustomed to in their private life.
  • With an integration of Vodafone’s chatbot TOBi into the Messenger App WhatsApp those demands can be attended and customer-service be transformed.
  • In order to stay relevant, Telcos need to adapt care channels in favor of meeting clients‘ evolving needs.


Situation

Since 2013, the use of digital communications has risen and got a further boost in the aftermath of the outbreak of COVID-19. Companies started to take note, and the first ones began to offer customer service via opt-in messaging apps in roughly 2015.

This convenience – the ability to stay connected while also controlling your own personal inflow of messages – is not to be underestimated. For many people, the ability to unplug when desired represents quality of life.

For telecommunications companies in particular, implementing messaging-based customer service can help increase customer loyalty at a time when their business models are undergoing massive change, and it is still unclear how things will shake out in the industry.

One scenario for the future is operators finding new ways to grow by combining different technology elements in their ecosystems for competitive advantage and becoming orchestrators of the network.

2020 State of mobile

In an increasingly mobile world, it is no longer enough to master technology – the key challenge for businesses: seamless experiences

204B

2019 Worldwide downloads

120B

USD worldwide app store consumer spend in 2019

7h

Per day spent in mobile by the average user in 2019

825%

Higher average IPO valuation for mobile companies in 2019

60%

Higher per user engagement by Gen Z vs. older demos in 2019

According to Accenture's Wireless Purchase Study from September 2020, a staggering 74% CSP customers value digital interactions over in-store, phone or home interactions.

Vodafone’s journey

Vodafone Germany developed a customer service solution with WhatsApp, the world’s most popular chat app. Customers can exchange messages with the company via audio, text or video. They can also receive and send documents.

Currently, more than 200,000 Vodafone customers are serviced each month via the WhatsApp channel, and 52 percent of them get their problems solved there without having to go to a live chat or a hotline.

As part of its ongoing collaboration with Vodafone, Accenture helped Vodafone set up agile teams and define use cases to enable messaging services. On this journey with Vodafone, Accenture supported Vodafone with best practices learned from similar projects.

Introducing TOBi

Soon after Vodafone began using WhatsApp, TOBi— Vodafone’s artificial intelligence (AI) bot that supports the service —was already solving half of the standard requests that came in.

TOBi is the starting point of any chat initiated by the customer. It is self-learning — it can now recognize more than 250 intents— and only switches over to a human employee when there are questions it cannot answer itself. TOBi is self-learning and only hands over to an employee when there are questions he cannot answer himself. This happens asynchronously.

"Hello, I am TOBi, your virtual assistant. Vodafone built me to help you quickly and easily 😊," TOBi says. That’s how TOBi answers, if a customer starts a conversation via WhatsApp.

Why Chatbots?

Chatbots can advise the website visitor and guide him to the desired information. In customer service, virtual assistants automatically answer inquiries, in marketing they generate valuable leads and in sales chatbots support the customer with automated recommendations.

Speed

No support member needs to be available, since the chatbot can filter requests to a granular level. The customers waiting time is reduced heavily.

Flexibility

The customer can write their request 24/7 and knows that it is taken care of. In case the chatbot can’t help, a real agent can take over.

Personalization

Chatbots are getting smarter with every customer request. Therefore, companies can personalize the communication through the collected data.

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Takeaways

How can instant Messaging and AI help to transform the digital care model of telcos?

1. Higher containment rate

There are far fewer dropped calls. Vodafone, for instance, has doubled its containment rate since integrating WhatsApp.

2. Increased customer satisfaction

People are happier with a streamlined experience that translates into significantly less wait time, more flexibility, control of their chat histories.

3. Increased profitability

With less workload for call center employees, companies can reap OPEX savings, particularly in developed countries where it is costly.

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Main outcomes

In an increasingly mobile world, it is no longer enough to master technology; businesses must master the art of the seamless customer experience.

200K

Customer per month serviced per WhatsApp channel

80%

Customer problems solved

"We believe that in three to five years, messaging as a contact channel will have overtaken the classic channels such as the call hotline and email."

— Jörg Knoop, Lead Technology Digital Incubator – Vodafone Germany

Meet the team

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