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Report: Consumers want zero-touch customer experience from operators

Ericsson says zero-touch is now a customer expectation

U.S. smartphone user Jennifer, 29, summed up during an Ericsson-led focus group a complaint many of us likely share regarding customer experience interactions with telcos: “The automated voices I speak to make me so frustrated. They don’t understand me. I just want to talk to a human about it. Time is so valuable. I’d rather just get straight to the person rather than also deal with a robot.”

But, for operators, staffing call centers with real people who need costly things like sick leave and other benefits, is a major opex driver, which prompts investment in the robots Jennifer bemoans.

A new report from the Ericsson Consumer and IndustryLab, titled “The Zero-Touch Customer Experience: Uncovering the future of consumer interactions with telecom service providers”, draws on 7,000 interviews with mobile users older than 16 to determine what consumers want out of their customer experience.

“Consumers believe telecom service providers treat touchpoints like isolated interactions,” according to Pernilla Jonsson, head of Ericsson Consumer and IndustryLab said. “Siloed focus means they miss the bigger picture. Interestingly, telecom service providers could leapfrog one-click and move from multiple-click to zero-touch by deploying future technologies in their customer offerings…Zero-touch customer experiences are now an expectation of their customers.”

So what’s the pathway from frustrating customer experiences to zero-touch? It hinges on artificial intelligence and data analytics, Ericsson says.

To offer up some examples, think of the identification process you go through to access account information–entering an account number, a PIN, perhaps a zip code, etc…Ericsson found 45% of survey respondents “would use biometric authentication to seek support, so they don’t have to go through a time-consuming identification process.” 51% of respondents want any problems automatically detected and fixed before having to take any action, according to the report.

On the same side of that equation, AI is a good step, but an all-AI approach is also not desirable. U.S. focus group participant Megan, 30, explained, “There are emotions involved. If you’re dealing with an automated robot, it won’t be persuaded by your reasoning. If you tell your story to a person, and you plead with them, you have a human connection and they may be more likely to credit your account or work with you more.” This highlights the need for a combination approach involving sympathetic, empathetic humans and analytical AI engines.

Ericsson researchers write in the report, “The human aspect is still extremely important to adding value in some steps…In order to achieve the zero-touch future, service providers will have to use AI and humans together where they add the most value.”




Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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