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Digicel Group testing AI for customer chatline and social media

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
A section of the Dgicel Building on the Kingston waterfront, headquarters of the telecoms group.

Digicel Group will start offering customers more self-serve features to resolve text queries in the wake of a deal struck with Canadian company Wysdom AI.

Customers across the group, which operates in 31 countries, will see more automated responses over time when communicating with Digicel through its website's chatline and on sites like Facebook. Digicel already has an updated automated voice operator for calls to its call centre, through an unnamed vendor.

Right now, Digicel is in the pilot phase of the artificial intelligence or AI initiative.

"We are still in the testing phase but customers the world over are demanding these services. Our plan is to ensure the new AI technology will follow the MyDigicel app in having wide scale availability across all Digicel markets," said Digicel regional communications manager Elon Parkinson. "We are in the pilot phase now and will only roll out more widely when we are sure that our customers will get the right experience," he said.


Putting customers in control


Digicel declined to reveal the cost involved in the venture at this stage. It said the initiative is more about putting customers in control and placing them at the "heart" of Digicel.

"The rest of our plans we treat as confidential since we are still at a very early stage of development," Parkinson added.

Wysdom allows companies to use AI to respond digitally to customer queries across all channels, including Facebook Messenger, online chat, and in-app, in English, French, and Spanish. The technology offers a corpus of over 125,000 telecom-industry specific questions which the AI understands with a 97.5 per cent precision rate. Wysdom adds that its clients see a 68 per cent containment rate on customer enquiries.

Digicel said the new system would not eliminate human interaction with customers, entirely.

"Of course, some customers will want to speak to a real person and they will continue to enjoy the convenience of reaching a live agent for support with the more complex questions and issues. Similar to the convenience of the MyDigicel app, the new technology is designed to give a helpful response to customers who make basic queries, especially outside working hours," said Parkinson.

But he added that in a digitalised world, more customers want to be able to serve themselves virtually.

Over the past 16 years, Digicel has made major investments to set up its telecom and customer service within the Caribbean, Central America and Pacific Islands.

The telecom has been using Integrated Voice Response or IVR technology for some time, with the latest change being a significant upgrade to the current system to make it easier for its customers to self-serve.

This is in addition to online top-up, interactive phone-based user menus, online bill payment and, more recently, the MyDigicel app, which allows balance checks and top-ups.

"Digicel has a proud history of democratising communication in the regions we serve. With Wysdom, we have the tools to provide our customers with options in how they receive digital care, wherever and whenever they need it," said Digicel's chief digital officer Hernan Ozon in a release on the deal with the Canadian company.