Telia & ultimate.ai: a new generation of customer service

Telia, a large European telecommunications company, has transformed its customer service: increasing its deflection rate, improving customer experiences, boosting agent morale and establishing itself as an automation expert. Here’s how.

Highlights

  • Telia handles up to 75,000 chats per month in Finland alone
  • Telia provides instant, 24/7 support to customers through chat
  • This state-of-the-art AI technology is built in-house by ultimate.ai, which was important for Telia
  • Telia has been able to completely automate 30% of all chats routed through ultimate.ai
  • At peak seasons, Telia is set to save 2,835 hours of agent effort a month (over 34,000 hours a year) thanks to automation
  • Agents freed from repetition can focus on high-value customers
  • Telia has built a world-class Automated Experiences team in-house. The chatbot they have built saves the work of an 18-person team

Intro


Telia is a Swedish-Finnish multinational telecommunications corporation that operates in Nordic and Baltic countries.

There, the “New Generation Telco,” as the company describes itself, is the largest operator by both customer base and revenue.

One of the reasons for its success is that Telia is deeply innovative. Technology is at the core of everything they do, with the aim to deliver the best products and services possible. This customer-centric and pioneering spirit drove Telia to harness the power of AI.

Excellent customer experience is close to our hearts and guides our everyday work. We invest in ease of communication and delighting our customers Tuula Heikkinen, Senior Vice President, Customer Channels, Telia Finland

With that in mind, and after a very technical and detailed vendor evaluation, Telia picked ultimate.ai and its end-to-end deep learning technology. Here is why.

The Challenge


As one of the largest telcos in the Nordics, with business spanning from mobile to broadband to TV, Telia serves millions of customers. Telia handles up to 75,000 customer service chats per month in Finland alone.

Occasionally, the strain gets even more intense, as was the case during the 2019 Ice Hockey season, for which Telia owned the streaming rights in Finland.

On top of this, Telia, as any telecommunications company, faces large customer acquisition costs. For telcos, customer retention, aided by excellent customer experience, is incredibly important.

To cushion the high acquisition costs, Telia needs a strong upselling strategy, with the aim to convert customers to new products. In this context, bespoke customer service and advice is a must.

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Our intelligent chatbot is a stepping stone for extremely high-value customer support. Janne Nieminen, Product Owner, Telia

Finally, the telecommunications industry is a dynamic one, where new technologies are quickly adopted and knowledge-heavy products get released regularly.

Freeing agents from repetitive support tasks so they can better accompany the adoption of these new practices makes for more meaningful customer service.

Telia, therefore, sought to invest early in an AI-powered solution that would help customer service:

  • To provide fast, effective support around the clock
  • To deflect repetitive and high-volume enquiries
  • To help the agents deal with spikes in volume
  • To make more time for agents to focus on high-value customer requests and upselling.

The Solution


Chat is Telia’s fastest-growing B2C channel, where thousands of customers get in touch every day.

With ultimate.ai’s solution, enquiring customers can reach out to Telia through chat either on the company’s homepage or from their own client account (i.e. pre- and post-login). In both cases, an intelligent chatbot greets them and tries to resolve their request.

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Telia’s automated conversations are powered by ultimate.ai’s deep learning NLP solution; it is able to hold multi-turn, complex conversations in Finnish and to deliver accurate, instant assistance. This allows to fully automate resolutions to common enquiries.

The bots pass on the more complex requests to one of Telia’s human agents, who see what the chatbot has been discussing and takes it from there.

Working on the forefront of innovation is extremely rewarding: not only do we improve our customers’ experience, but we’re also constantly gaining knowledge and improving our skillset, we are taking AI’s potential for future developments into our own hands. Ida-Maria Lehtisalo, bot trainer, Telia

This process is seamless for the customer as well as for the agent: the solution is integrated into Telia’s custom built ecosystem leveraging Lekane Chat and Genesys contact center.

This state-of-the-art AI technology is built in-house by ultimate.ai, which was important for Telia, who is constantly seeking to work with partners at the forefront of innovation.

ultimate.ai provided a fully containerised solution that could be deployed on premise. Telia thus gets cutting-edge artificial intelligence without any data leaving their server centres: Telia, as a telco, detains highly regulated customer information and takes data protection very seriously.

Book a demo to find out how ultimate.ai can bring automation to your customer support team quickly and easily.

Organisational innovation at Telia


But the innovation also lies in the way Telia organised its customer service department around artificial intelligence. They were pioneers in deciding to develop an internal team for chatbot training, detaching three customer service agents to the automated experiences team.

These agents train and improve Telia’s chatbot, ever-increasing its accuracy for the customers and the agents. They also spearheaded a structure to manage the automation platform.

Their level of expertise grants the chatbot trainers a particular status: these “superheroes” are frequently consulted as automation experts, and Telia puts them in the spotlight of their customer service achievements.

It should be said that they are well worth their time: Telia has come up with brand new KPIs and observed that at maximum capacity, the chatbot completes the work of 18 agents in answering repetitive requests. That is the equivalent of hiring and training an 18-person team!

The Results


The collaboration between Telia and ultimate.ai is yielding strong results on all fronts. Telia has been able to completely automate 30% of all chats routed through ultimate.ai.

From an agent standpoint, morale has gotten even better: now that they are free from repetitive, time-consuming tasks, agents can focus their talents on giving customers great experiences. The team is constantly acquiring new skills, and operates at an advanced level.

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What’s coming next


AI solutions are already embedded into many functions of Telia, and now ultimate.ai’s NLP solution reinforces this stack and is a core component of Telia’s customer experience strategy.

With AI-driven customer service like theirs, the opportunities for continuing innovation are endless.

Now, Telia is looking at developing an in-app channel, to complement the existing two intelligent bots.

With automation, we are able to kill several birds with one stone: customers get a higher-level support system, our agents are more valued than ever, and we are significantly cutting costs. Janne Nieminen, Product Owner, Telia

They also want to leverage AI to support more of their customer journey — chat is a popular sales channel; so one of the next steps is to expand their chatbot to support their sales teams.

Finally, Telia is exploring the use of AI to increase agent productivity, by providing real-time suggested responses to agents.

Telia is a multi-faceted powerhouse using AI to drive innovation, progress and satisfaction for customers and support agents alike.

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