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    Strong consumer demand for digital engagement with communications service providers, but only 13% of interactions are purely digital

    Consumers are keen to use digital self-service channels when interacting with their communications service provider but are being held back by a “broken” digital customer journey that often requires them to switch to a human agent, according to research published today by Amdocs, a leading provider of software and services to communications and media companies.

    Refocus, a survey of nearly 10,000 consumers across nine countries*, found that just 13% of customer interactions with communications service providers are completed purely digitally with no human involvement, using self-service tools like chatbots, apps and websites.

    The low proportion of end-to-end digital interactions is in stark contrast to the high rates of digitalisation and automation reported by decision makers at communications service providers, who stated that 65% of journeys are digitalised.

    This gap between providers’ digitalisation of journeys and the actual proportion of interactions being completed end-to-end digitally is consistent across seven types of customer engagements, including technical/setup support and purchasing or changing subscriptions and plans.

    The research reveals that consumer demand for digital channels is twice as high as current usage, suggesting a mismatch between customers’ preferences and the ability of providers to meet them. Younger consumers (aged 18-54) are most likely to start their journey digitally, with 41% of those in this age category doing so compared to 31% of 55-64-year-olds and 24% of those aged 65-plus. In most cases (56%) it is the consumer’s decision to switch from digital to human channels during an interaction.

    Furthermore, the research suggests that digital channels – when executed properly – can be a substantial differentiator, with 42% of consumers saying they would likely switch operator if another provider offered a significantly better self-service experience.

    Refocus also gathers recommendations from dozens of telco industry decision makers, including around the use of data management and artificial intelligence (AI) as a foundation for increasing adoption and stickiness of digital channels. However, nearly two thirds (63%) of decision makers surveyed said that implementation of AI and ML is a major challenge and currently is not having a significant impact on their customers’ engagement with digital channels.

    Finally, the research suggests human agents will have an important role in communications service providers’ customer experience for the foreseeable future. The findings underline the ability of human agents to act as brand champions by generating high levels of customer satisfaction, and recommends that agents receive ongoing investment, support and upskilling to maximise their effectiveness, working in harmony alongside digital channels to drive a superior overall customer experience.

    “Our research shines a light on the gap between consumers’ strong appetite for digital journeys and the effectiveness of today’s offerings,” said Gil Rosen, Chief Marketing Officer at Amdocs. “It also shows that, while service providers report high levels of digitalisation and automation, the reality is that it’s rare for a consumer to complete a journey end-to-end digitally. A frictionless digital customer experience is vital today and will only continue to grow in importance as consumer demand for self-service channels increases and new technologies like AI allow for innovation.”

    He added: “The clear take-away from these findings is that communications service providers seeking to gain a competitive advantage should refine and refocus their digital customer engagement strategy, while continuing to invest in upskilling their human agents. By doing so, service providers will be able to close the gap between their offerings and consumer expectations and provide a rounded, holistic experience that delights consumers and provides those all-important ‘wow’ moments.”

    Amdocs will be showcasing its digital customer engagement capabilities at Mobile World Congress Barcelona, February 27-March 2, 2023. Book a meeting with us at MWC to learn more about the findings of the Refocus research.

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