Artificial Intelligence or AI technology is being adopted in a big way by Indian telecom operators like Airtel and Reliance Jio as they look to offer better and more cost-efficient customer experience to increase stickiness on their networks as they battle for subscribers.
Bharti Airtel has tied up with Google to simplify its customer service experience with the integration of the artificial intelligence-powered Google Assistant, which is driven by voice commands, a move that will also help reduce costs.
Jio, on the other hand, already introduced voice command on its MyJio application to simply customer service process for its subscribers. Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its recent report said that voice AI is a focus area for the Mukesh Ambani-led telco, and the AI-based voice command feature is working well for the telco.
Jio is also taking steps to in-house develop AI technology-based products and solutions. Jio's director and Mukesh Ambani's son, Akash Ambani, is building a team of professionals on AI and its multiple use cases for the telecom firm.
"Efforts to automate customer service is already visible through apps. Airtel has already made sizeable efforts on this front and is seeing a good response on its myairtel app. It makes a lot of sense to adopt AI technology to automate given the cost of human interaction has increased 20-30%," Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, founder and CEO, Greyhound Research, told ET.
"Indian telcos need to make their subscribers use these features. Airtel's app for self-service is well received. Jio's user base is different, and they may not use such a feature as aggressively," he said, adding that bottom line is user adoption.
Airtel, facing severe revenue and margin pressures amid competition, said it will roll out the new service in regional languages to its almost 350 million subscribers and encourage them to get online. Airtel will continue to track questions that customers ask and enable responses to them via Google Assistant.
‚??As part of our digital transformation journey, this is another yet innovation to empower our customers. With smartphones fast becoming the norm for every Indian, this will make digital self-care much more interactive and step up the customer experience. We will continue to bring more such exciting solutions for ‚??Digital India‚??," Sarang Kanade, Director, Customer Experience & Retail, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
Airtel is already using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to enhance customer experience through its MyAirtel application and airtel.in, in a bid to increase stickiness on its network. It had also introduced the technology in its call center operations to help its agents resolve problems.
Airtel recently said that it was acquiring the core team of Bengaluru based start-up Authme, and intellectual proprietary rights of the latter's two flagship solutions -- Callup AI and Fintech OCR - to fortify its artificial intelligence (AI)-based products and services to better serve its subscribers.
The initiative is a part of Project Next ‚?? Airtel‚??s digital innovation program, which is aimed at transforming customer experience across all of its services and touch points. Airtel plans to launch several exciting digital innovations to step change the simplicity and interactivity of its customer experience.
"We think AI is an enabler and will always remain as a background technology having a great potential to bring in significant savings to any business. Bots have emerged as a popular use case and offer great saving to telcos," Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research said.