Vodafone takes customer service to next level with Google Cloud and Genesys-powered AI virtual assistant ‘TOBi’ and Speech IVR

Vodafone is taking customer care to the next level by partnering with Google Cloud and Genesys to launch a suite of artificial intelligence-powered chat bots and smart speech recognition tools to improve customer experience by resolving queries in record time.

Using Google Cloud’s Dialogflow and Genesys Multicloud CXTM, Vodafone has transformed its customer service journey with the launch of its first AI chat assistant named ‘TOBi’ on its digital customer care channels and the first phase of its new Natural Language Processing (NLP) speech Interactive Voice Response (IVR) on its voice customer care channel.

TOBi and speech IVR use AI to understand and respond to customers to significantly reduce the time it takes to resolve their queries by either directly solving their issue or triaging them to the correct resource or department with greater accuracy and speed.

TOBi digital chat assistant

Through NLP and contextual search, TOBi can provide end-to-end assistance for low-complexity queries, route the customer to the best digital self-service application, or connect the customer to the best human agent with the relevant skills to handle their needs.

Since its full launch in April 2021, 70 per cent of customer queries coming through Vodafone’s digital channels are now fully resolved through TOBi, with just 30 per cent being directed to a customer care agent.

For queries that are triaged to an agent for resolution, customer care agents are provided with real-time access to customer insights and the full context of the customer’s needs and account details before the first point of contact, allowing agents to take the necessary actions without the need for customers to repeat their query or account details.

TOBi has also seen the migration of single web-session messaging onto 24/7, always-on messaging through the MyVodafone app, offering instant, flexible support while customers are on the move. Active for 48-hour periods, customers can leave the chat and re-engage at a time that works best for them.

NLP Speech IVR

In the first phase of its NLP Speech IVR, Vodafone has migrated from its original keypad-based (DTMF) IVR system to natural language speech IVR on its telephone customer care channels, allowing customers to communicate their query in natural language and be directly routed to the correct resource or agent, quickly and easily removing the inconvenience of navigating long and complex IVR menus.

For example, customers calling Vodafone’s customer care line to upgrade their phone or seek assistance in installing their NBN device can simply state, when prompted, “I want to upgrade” or “I need help installing my NBN”. The speech IVR will confirm the query with the customer, and then will triage the customer directly to the upgrades department or NBN troubleshooting department respectively.

Since its launch, Vodafone reports a 94 per cent match rate of customers’ spoken intents to a customer care agent or resource, demonstrating the capability of the system against varying accents, tones of voice and pronunciations.

Later this year, Vodafone will roll out the next phase of its NLP and AI capabilities, which will enable customers to perform end-to-end, simple transactions through the speech IVR, such as a change to their plan or an upgrade to their handset, making self-service quick, easy and efficient.

TPG Telecom General Manager Customer Care, Virginia Papinyan said, “By using AI virtual assistants, predictive analytics and natural language processing we are taking out some of the most common pain points that customers experience while also delivering a fast, simple, and frictionless digital customer experience.

“Every minute of a customer’s time is precious, and that’s why we are committed to doing everything we can to remove the frustration of long wait times or lengthy searching for relevant answers. TOBi and our NLP speech IVR delivers efficient customer support through offering immediate, relevant assistance, 24/7.

“By partnering with Google Cloud and Genesys to deliver these innovations, we are demonstrating that we are at the forefront of using customer friendly, intuitive technology solutions to keep our customers happy and our customer care agents more engaged.”

Google Cloud Vice President ANZ, Alister Dias, said “When it comes to customer service, every second counts. By harnessing the power of AI, machine learning, and data analytics, Vodafone can offer rich, intuitive customer outcomes, quickly. The result is a better experience for customers-they get answers faster-and human agents can focus on higher-value tasks.”

Genesys Vice President ANZ, Mark Buckley, said “Delivering unified, frictionless and empathetic experiences in the new customer-led marketplace has never been more important. The Google and Genesys collaboration exemplifies how strategic partnerships enable enterprises to orchestrate seamless end-to-end customer experiences and increase their operational efficiencies. Genesys will continue to redefine the CX space and assist innovative companies like Vodafone to digitally transform and deliver exceptional customer service and satisfaction.”

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