Digital humans for telco

Conversational AI-powered digital humans are making waves in the telecommunications industry, putting memorable interactions (not just transactions) at the center of the customer experience.

Whether it’s as a call center solution, a brand-embodied employee across retail stores or an interactive assistant in eCommerce, they’re here to put the human experience front and center across the telco industry.

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Learn how these leading telcos are using UneeQ to improve their CX

What makes us UneeQ

Today’s telecommunication companies were built with one simple mantra in mind – communication can be enhanced by applying the right technologies. This has led telcos to become some of the most futurist, innovative and forerunning companies in the world.

But things are no doubt more complicated today than they once were. Contact centers are under heavy pressure, struggling to scale as needed. Meanwhile, scalable automated technologies like chatbots are failing to replicate that all important human touch – the gold standard of great customer experience. As a result, digital fatigue has set in, to the point where 82% of consumers say they’d rather talk to a person, even as technology advances.

UneeQ digital humans provide a more human experience to customers, allowing brands to scale the human touch while allowing real staff to focus on the most valuable tasks. Welcome to the world of conversational AI.

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Omnichannel

Digital humans help customers online, through web or apps, as well as in the real world via in-store kiosks. They work across touchpoints to offer multimodal, omnichannel customer experience – 24/7, 365 days a year.

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Embody

Telco brands are some of the most valuable in the world. But how well does a bot represent your brand? Design your own digital human employee – someone who lives, breathes, embodies and interacts your brand values.

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Humanize

Level up any chatbot by putting a human face to customer-facing channels – whether it’s for marketing or customer support. Digital humans add empathy, warmth and the non-verbal cues customers need to feel seen, heard and valued.

Meet the AI-powered digital humans working in telco today

Vodafone | An end-to-end transaction, led by an AI interaction

Vodafone’s UneeQ digital human lives in key store locations, where she helps customers top up their mobile phones. Offering an end-to-end service (from welcoming users to taking payment) Vodafone’s staff have more time to handle those more complex customer requests.

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Singtel | Stella is the human face of innovative unmanned stores

Singapore’s leading telecommunications provider employs Stella to help customers find the right plan, top up their mobile phones, sign up for Singtel mobile, fiber broadband or TV subscriptions, replace their SIM cards, and much more. And all through real, engaging conversation.

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Create interactions, not just transactions

The combination of natural language processing and advanced CGI means digital humans can have more meaningful, memorable interactions with a telco’s customers than any other automated technology available today.

Available around the clock, across channels

Digital humans are available whenever your customers need them, and wherever they are – physically via kiosks, or online through browser or mobile applications.

Embody your brand’s values

You spend significant time and money hiring the people who best embody your brand. Your digital human is designed precisely to live and breathe your brand into your digital channels – everything from voice and looks to unique personality traits.

Go beyond a lifeless telco chatbot

Digital humans can be integrated to any chatbot, NLP or other conversational AI. They use this same “brain”, but add the human animation, voice and non-verbal communication that customers are now demanding more and more.

  • “I think applications like UneeQ’s give us an opportunity to provide both additional utility to our consumers while continuing to delight them.”
    VERIZON
    VP CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE INNOVATION
  • “Digital humans bring back the human dimension to servicing, and scale it. To connect emotionally with their clients and be sensitive not just to their practical, but also to their emotional needs.”
    DELOITTE DIGITAL
    PARTNER
  • “UneeQ's digital humans are capable of continuously learning how to anticipate our customers' needs and better serve them.”
    VODAFONE
    DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER OPERATIONS

A HISTORY OF TELECOMMUNICATION TECH: FROM HUMAN TO ROBOT AND BACK AGAIN

From the invention of the telegraph to telephone – and radio to 5G – telecommunication companies have long used technology to make communication between people better, faster and more engaging. And while technology since then has made customer communications more robotic, AI in telecommunications promises to put the human back at the center of the experience. In fact, the history of telecommunications technology shows us the way forward.

Pre-1870s

A plethora of progress: From smoke signals and drums, to semaphore and the invention of the telegram, history holds a huge number of telecommunications inventions pivotal to mankind. But none could replicate real-time human communication that conveys meaning like a real conversation.

1870s

Saying hello to telco: That all changed when the Bell Telephone company commercialized the telephone – an incredible and lasting innovation in person-to-person communication. Soon acquired by AT&T, the modern telecommunications industry was born.

1920s

The invention of the TV: The television added a visual medium through which people could experience the world, while adding a new channel for the telecommunication industry.

1930s

Explosion of research and innovation: The following decades brought heaps of experimentation and innovation in long-distance communication, videophone networks, fiber-optics and semiconductor manufacturing that ultimately set the scene for our digital telecommunication future.

1990s

The mobile era: While the cell phone had already been invented, their ubiquity in everyday life began in earnest in the late ‘90s. One-on-one communication (through text or voice) would now become standard.

2000s

VoIP: Potentially our favorite landmark moment, and one that launched our business. Voice-over internet protocol made the internet viable for telecommunications. The foundation for the future of telco was set.

2010s

Chatbots and voice assistants: Expensive and overburdened call centers led to the adoption of automated technologies, like chatbots. While, at the same time, voice assistants like Siri and Alexa made their way into people’s homes. The world got more used to interacting with bots, be it through voice or text.

2020s

The age of experiential conversational AI: Conversational AI employed by digital human technology is now able to finally replicate how it looks, sounds and feels to have a face-to-face conversation. Telcos have been some of the first to employ digital humans to offer customer support and even transactions, but all the while keeping interactions at the heart.

BRINGING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE BACK TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS | DIGITAL HUMANS, CHATBOTS AND CONVERSATIONAL AI​

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking brands in the telecommunications industry back to basics. As it was decades ago, the brands that are able to create human connections are the ones best placed to grow in the modern world. And conversational AI technology in digital humans is how they’re achieving it.

The biggest and most successful telecommunications brands that exist today understood better than anyone else the value of real, two-way conversations. The biggest and most successful brands of tomorrow understand exactly how important that remains, but how scarce it is becoming in the digital world.

Since the days of the telegram, telco pioneers have been finding ways to put more human interaction into communication, using ground-breaking technologies like the telephone, internet and video.

Conversational AI in digital humans doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It offers what telecommunications companies have known all along. That great communication can be dramatically enhanced with technologies that try to put more human into the medium.

That’s why telcos were among some of the first organizations to innovate with digital human technology, giving them the opportunity to have open-ended, two-way conversational experiences with customers.

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    Confronting the contact-center conundrum

    In a world where 73% of customers say they’re likely to switch brands because of an inconsistent level of service, call centers have proven to be a bit of an anomaly in customer experience. They’re traditional, inconsistent by nature and highly resistant to digital transformation.

    According to AGC Partners, only 17% of call centers can identify the points of friction that are causing negative customer experiences. But one of the biggest reasons why contact center conundrum is such a tough nut to crack is because at their heart, they’re human. And humans don’t scale to meet demand.

    They also don’t integrate well with technology. They work with sometimes fragmented information that they often find hard to locate, while sometimes struggling to adhere to process, governance and regulations. It’s a lot of mechanical thinking.

    But humans are the best ambassadors for your brand. They offer a gold standard in customer experience. Real people speak like real people, meaning they engage, empathise and communicate with customers better than any chatbot ever could.

    But call center staff need help. Powered by conversational AI, UneeQ digital humans are employed as contact center agents today. They’re available 24/7, they scale to meet demand and they speak data as a native language by integrating with back-end databases.

    That means real staff can concentrate on the most valuable, complex or high-touch calls, while digital human agents take the queries that are most open to automation, while retaining some of the human touch customers pay for.

    It also means a consistent level of service. At every touchpoint, your brand is offering a human service, with the two-way interaction, open-ended conversation and non-verbal cues that make for greater levels of connection.

    Creating exceptional online customer service

    Digital humans aren’t just a contact-center solution; UneeQ’s digital humans are employed in the stores of major brands like Vodafone and Singtel, as well as working online to provide greater levels of engagement.

    After all, it’s the digital world that has led to the proliferation of automated customer service tools. Many customers are now forced to find their own answers by scouring through the UI of a mobile app, using a website’s search bar or opening a dialogue with a chatbot.

    We’re sure you’ve spent significant time and investment on the UX of your app, but there’s another simpler way for customers to find what they want. They can ask. And they can use the oldest and most time-tested user interface there is – the human face.

    Whether it’s for eCommerce sales, online customer support, or just help filling out a form, our digital humans live online and breathe customer engagement. In fact, some of our digital human POCs have registered 300% increases in customer engagement and 3x increases in conversion rates. Not to mention that 70% of users who speak with a digital human demonstrate a positive emotional reaction.

    Digital channels have sacrificed connection and interaction for speed and convenience. With digital humans, you can have both.

    Building better brand experiences in telecommunications

    Telcos have some of the grandest, most valuable, most global and most difficult-to-tame brands in the world. The largest are international companies, who have to manage their brands across huge territories, and try to keep consistency across near countless touchpoints.

    So what’s one bad customer experience worth? One report from BRP says that, to two-thirds of all consumers, it’s enough for them to stop being a customer altogether. But the opposite is true, too.

    Deloitte’s research shows that customers who have a great experience with your brand spend more, cost less to service and stay loyal for longer.

    For telecommunications companies, consistency is everything – and there are a lot of ways conversational AI and digital humans can help keep your brand under close control.

    For one thing, a digital human uses NLP engines (like Dialogflow, Amazon Lex, IBM Watson or any other) to specify the answers given to a customer. It’s impossible for a digital human to misinform, go off-script, have a bad day and give an off-brand experience, as long as the data is correct.

    Even when wider conversational AI engines are used (like GPT-3 or Blender) which use machine learning to hold open-ended and autonomously generated conversations, this can be guard-railed. A digital human using such a tool can have black-lists of topics, words or phrases that it will never touch upon.

    Digital humans also plug into virtually any data source, knowledge base or backend system, so he/she can converse using live and up-to-date information from your business.

    And that’s not yet mentioning the multichannel form digital humans can take. Living online and “physically” via in-location kiosks or screens, your on-brand AI avatar gives a consistent experience, however people choose to interact, regardless of the time of day.

    Statistics on chatbot engagement | UneeQ Blog

    Why can’t a telco’s chatbot do it?

    Chatbots do a lot right, but they are just one component of the trend towards digital workforces. In fact, while conversational AI platforms are on course to grow by 30% each year until 2025 and reaching a value of $17 billion, chatbots only make up a small portion of the final landscape, according to Adroit Market Research.

    Natural language platforms will be the drivers of significant growth in conversational AI – the technology behind a chatbot. These “digital brains” can then be used with a variety of interfaces, including chatbots, virtual assistants, voice assistants and digital humans.

    So yes, your telco’s chatbot has a place in the near-future. It will remain a great resource for those who want a quick answer via a text interface. But for more complex, higher-value and emotionally engaging interactions, your chatbot cannot provide a good experience.

    Your digital human, meanwhile, uses the same “digital brain” as your chatbot, so you can use your chatbot to create a more personal, personalized and human-like customer channel. With 42% of organizations saying they’re prioritizing creating a more human experience into their chatbot channel, telecommunications companies will surely, too, build upon their chatbot success with more humanized AI solutions.

    Enhancing the human side of customer experience

    Service with a smile has been the cornerstone of great customer service for millenia. Even when customers are interacting with call-center staff, the friendliness and warmth comes through things like tone of voice.

    But as we move further into an autonomous, digital-first world of customer service, the smile is going – from both sides of the interaction. A chatbot cannot convey empathy and warmth, and they’ve never made a customer grin.

    But in this hyper-efficient world, there’s still room to put some semblance of the human experience back. Conversational AI through digital humans is the only way to scale the human touch. Face-to-face interactions with a digital human can happen in real time, with infinite numbers of customers, 24/7. But most importantly, they recreate the parts of human emotional connection that’s been stripped from digital channels – the type that’s so valuable in human conversations.

    Digital humans smile, show warmth and empathy through their facial expressions, and can convey subtle emotions through tone of voice. That means when a customer needs reassurance, or simply someone to share in their excitement, they’re having their emotional needs satisfied.

    This is only scratching the surface of user behavior with conversational AI. Humanized AI has been found to build trust, improve user cooperation with technologies, allow people to open up more about sensitive topics and lower the barriers to entry of customer interactions.

    And finally, let’s not forget the power of personalization. Marketers around the world know the power of personalized communications, but it’s been infamously hard to integrate into digital channels.

    Digital humans see, listen to and interact with people. They use data to talk about a customer’s specific matters, and can even use their names. What can be more personal than that in a digital world?

Get a complete overview of digital humans

Unlock the what, why, and how of conversational AI and digital humans with our free eBook. 

Other industries we work with

Right now, UneeQ digital humans are working in the healthcare, education and retail sectors to name just a few. Everything from their appearance to their personalities are being co-designed to create the most positive, lasting impact on users.

Retail

In-store or online, digital humans make retail about interactions, not just transactions, creating memorable, omnichannel customer experiences that amplify and boost user engagement.

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Healthcare

From improving health literacy and healthcare accessibility to easing the burden on front-line staff, digital humans educate and inform, while combining the best of in-person and digital care.

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Banking & finance

Chatbots and other digital channels are helping banking and financial services organizations scale, but they’re sacrificing customer experience in the process. Digital humans are helping put that back.

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Digital humans in telecommunication: A conversational AI solution for today

While the foundations of conversational AI were laid in science-fiction novels, the present day benefits are very real. As with any emerging technology, you’d be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t yet exist, but major telecommunication brands have been using digital humans for years.

And in 2020, things got even easier. UneeQ launched Creator, the world’s first platform for designing, developing and deploying digital human employees and experiences.

While AI-powered digital humans used to cost significant time and effort to build, today the barrier to entry is much more manageable. Using UneeQ Creator’s free trial, you can choose how your digital human looks, sounds and interacts. You can integrate your chatbot or NLP and start speaking to your brand straight away. And you can build out a POC to share with others.

It’s never been easier to start building the future of customer service and experience in the telecommunications space. A future where the human touch is ubiquitous.