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How telcos can use AI to support broadband repairs and improve service
by Jordan Street

Few things are more frustrating than broadband issues. In fact, 28% of office workers say they find slow speeds more frustrating than receiving negative feedback. It’s been a constant source of frustration since the advent of the internet, but with more people working from home since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the frustrations that come with poor internet quality are even greater.

If your customers are repeatedly facing spinning wheels, fuzzy Zoom calls and slow downloads, they are eventually going to get in touch. They’ll likely pick up the phone and give your customer service team an earful before running through some diagnostic checks. If the problem persists, they’ll call again, angrier this time, and arrange a technician to visit for a more comprehensive fix. 

That’s the best-case scenario. If they’re near the end of their contract, they might just switch without you knowing why. Speed is the main reason why telco customers switch provider, with customer service at number two. If you’re letting your customers down on both counts, they’ll be out the door and you may be none the wiser why. 

It’s bad enough if this is a single consumer but slow internet speeds are a costly issue for businesses too. Research shows each employee loses 38 hours (£494 of productivity) every year due to slow internet. If a business customer leaves, that could be a major blow.  

Telcos therefore must do more to help their customers maintain optimum service levels from their broadband service. While some problems require a personal human touch, the vast majority of issue can be solved using artificial intelligence. 

Ongoing support and service 

Telco providers could use artificial intelligence to continually monitor the service levels their customers are getting and notify them if they dip below acceptable levels.  

For example, by monitoring speeds and connectivity across all devices on a network, telcos could send their users a message such as: “Hi, we’ve noticed that your desktop computer frequently drops off from the network. If possible, please move this device and router closer together or order an extender to improve connectivity.” A customer could then press a button to order an extender and solve the issue. 

This way the customer doesn’t have to get in touch because you’ve solved the issue before it’s become so frustrating that they’ve had to call.  

They could also use proactive conversational AI to warn of a planned outage due to maintenance. Every customer in the affected area could be contacted by text, email, or whichever other channel they prefer to be told what’s happening ahead of time and when they can expect normal service to resume.  

While this will still be annoying, it will at least prevent them from taking up your contact centre’s time to ask what’s going on.  

Arranging technical visits 

Not all problems can be fixed by the user – some will need a technician’s experience. If your customer is still texting you to tell you that the issues persist, AI can neatly hand over to a human agent or schedule a home visit at a time that suits them.  

The benefit for your team is that they will have access to all the data and detail collected by these AI conversations. They will therefore be more prepared about what they need to do when they pick up the case. This means your customers do not have to repeat themselves and enables your staff to be more efficient.  

If their issue means that someone has to visit them, then they can give your conversational AI some windows that work for them, reducing the likelihood of them cancelling. Reminders can then be sent ahead of time to ensure they do not forget.  

Being there when they need you 

Telco customers are unique in the sense that, unlike most other subscriptions they have, they likely use your services all the time. The services telcos offer enable their consumers to work, play, express themselves and have fun. There’s an emotional attachment that customers have to their devices and telco services are a huge part of that. That’s where the anger comes from when these services are inhibited.  

It's right that telco brands do not shy away from contacting their customers when they need to. A message from your broadband provider is important and the vast majority of customers are glad to receive useful, non-promotional communications that help them maintain their service levels. When telcos provide this, we see increases in customer satisfaction levels, which ultimately decreases the likelihood of them switching at the end of their contract.  

Using AI to fix issues and communicate with customers is something that all telcos should be doing to reduce costs and drive satisfaction levels.

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