Evgeniy Galabov talks about the future of telecom customer service

The Roles of AI and Humans in the Future of Telecom Customer Service: Interview with Evgeniy Galabov

In a detailed exploration of the telecommunications industry’s future, Evgeniy Galabov, co-founder of IRZ Solutions, the company developing DigiNovo, offers an analytical perspective on the balance between artificial intelligence (AI) and human interaction within customer support. Highlighting the evolving dynamics of this field, he emphasizes the critical role of integrating digital innovations with human-centric approaches to enhance customer experiences. The following interview goes through the strategic use of AI in telecom customer service, the importance of phygital (physical and digital) interactions, and the challenges of blending these elements seamlessly. Galabov’s insights aim to show both the technological advancements shaping the industry and the enduring value of human touch in creating meaningful customer engagements.

How do you see the balance between automated systems and human customer support agents in the telco industry changing in the next few years?

Evgeniy Galabov:
In the telco industry, the integration of automated systems and human agents is entering a new era of synergy. AI chatbots and automated systems are becoming more adept at handling routine inquiries and initial customer interactions. This shift allows human agents to focus on complex, emotionally nuanced interactions, where empathy and deep problem-solving skills are essential. Over the next few years, we expect a more strategic deployment of AI in managing high-volume, low-complexity tasks, while human agents will be reserved for areas where personal touch and judgement are crucial. At DigiNovo, we envision our role as facilitating this balance, ensuring that AI systems are not just efficient, but also contextually aware and capable of seamless handover to human agents when necessary.”
 Instead of a complete replacement of human agents by AI, there will likely be an increased collaboration where AI systems handle initial inquiries and escalate more complex or sensitive issues to human agents. This synergy can improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.

As AI takes over more routine tasks, the role of human customer support agents will shift towards handling more complex, nuanced, or high-value interactions. This will require additional training and upskilling of the workforce.

The integration of AI across various channels (phone, chat, email, social media) will continue to grow. However, seamless handover and information sharing between AI systems and human agents will be crucial for maintaining a consistent and efficient customer experience.

How are AI and machine learning transforming telecom customer service today, and what potential do you see for these technologies in enhancing customer experiences in the future? 

AI and machine learning are currently revolutionizing telecom customer support by enhancing efficiency, personalization, and predictive problem-solving. These technologies are automating routine tasks, providing agents with insightful data, and enabling personalized customer experiences. Looking ahead, we see AI becoming more sophisticated in understanding customer sentiment and needs, allowing for even more personalized and proactive support. Machine learning will continue to evolve, enabling systems to learn from interactions and improve over time, thereby enhancing the accuracy and relevance of support provided.”

The future of automation in telecom customer support is set to grow, particularly in areas like initial customer query handling, basic troubleshooting, and data-driven insights generation. However, human agents will remain crucial in handling complex issues, providing empathy in sensitive situations, and managing escalations that require human judgement. We foresee a collaborative model where AI tools empower agents with the right information at the right time, thus enhancing the overall effectiveness of human-led support.”

So, at IRZ Solutions and DigiNovo we expect to see automation in the fields of:

  • First-Level Customer Inquiries: Basic and repetitive customer queries are increasingly being automated, reducing response times and improving efficiency.
  • Data Analysis and Insights: AI will automate the analysis of large volumes of customer data, providing insights for better decision-making and service improvement.
  • Routine Operational Tasks: Tasks like account management, billing inquiries, and standard troubleshooting will become fully automated.
  • Human Agents Will Continue to be Important in:
  • High-Value Customer Interactions: For premium or high-value customers, personalized human interaction will remain important for maintaining relationships and loyalty
  • Handling Complex Issues: Human agents will be crucial for resolving complex technical problems or issues that require a deep understanding of context.
  • Escalations and Complaints: When customers are dissatisfied or when automated systems fail to resolve an issue, human intervention will be necessary.

Phygital experiences are becoming increasingly significant in telecom customer service. What role does Diginovo plan to play in the years to come and how do you aim to position on the market in the long-term? 

As phygital experiences gain prominence, DigiNovo plans to be a key enabler in this realm. Our focus is on bridging the gap between digital convenience and physical engagement. We aim to enhance the phygital customer experience in telecoms by providing tools that allow seamless transition from digital to physical interactions and vice versa. This includes enhancing our platform to support virtual assistance, augmented reality, and other technologies that merge the physical and digital realms in customer support.”

In the long term, DigiNovo aims to position itself as a leading innovator at the intersection of digital and physical customer service. Our goal is to be recognized as a provider of comprehensive, integrated solutions that cater to the evolving needs of the telecom industry. We plan to continuously invest in adopting cutting-edge technologies and maintain a customer-centric approach to ensure that our solutions remain highly valuable and effective in an ever-changing market landscape.

We envision DigiNovo playing a pivotal role in enhancing phygital customer experiences. Our platform is designed to seamlessly integrate digital interactions, such as video consultations and real-time support, with traditional, physical telecom customer service methods. This blend will enable more personalized and efficient customer journeys.

To keep pace with evolving market demands, we plan to continuously integrate advanced AI technologies like augmented reality, machine learning and natural language processing. These innovations will not only enhance the interactivity of our platform but also enable us to provide more intuitive and tailored customer experiences.

In the coming years, DigiNovo aims to expand its presence across various industries where phygital experiences are becoming increasingly important. This includes sectors like retail, banking, healthcare, and education, beyond our current focus areas.

Our long-term market positioning will heavily focus on the user experience. We are committed to ensuring that DigiNovo is not only technologically advanced but also user-friendly, accessible, and valuable to both businesses and their customers.

Forming partnerships with other tech companies, e.g. system integrators and linking with complementary business solutions will be key to broadening our reach and enhancing our platform’s capabilities.

Lat but not least, we recognize the importance of staying agile and responsive to the rapidly changing market trends and customer expectations. Our strategy includes continuously adapting to new communication channels and customer service paradigms as they emerge.

What do you consider the biggest challenges and opportunities in implementing a phygital approach in customer support within the telecom industry?

The biggest challenges in implementing a phygital approach include seamlessly integrating technology without diminishing the human aspect of customer service, ensuring data security and privacy, and managing the complexity of hybrid customer interaction channels. However, these challenges also present opportunities: to innovate in enhancing customer engagement, to leverage data for deeper customer insights, and to set new standards in personalized customer support.”

What would be your advice to telecom companies looking to improve their customer support?

Telecom companies looking to improve customer support should focus on integrating advanced AI technologies like ML, AR and NLP to enhance efficiency and personalization. It’s crucial to balance technology with the human element, ensuring that customer support remains empathetic and personalized. Continuous training of staff, investment in technology upgrades, and a focus on customer feedback are key to improving both quality and efficiency in customer support.

What are some important metrics to measure the success of Phygital Telecom Customer Support?

In a phygital world, traditional metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) and First Call Resolution (FCR) remain important. However, new metrics such as Customer Effort Score (CES), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and digital engagement levels become increasingly crucial. These metrics help gauge the effectiveness of phygital strategies in enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Customer Effort Score (CES): This metric assesses how much effort customers need to exert to get their issues resolved. Lower effort can lead to higher customer satisfaction, especially important in an environment where digital tools should simplify interactions.
  • First Contact Resolution (FCR): This measures the percentage of customer issues resolved in the first interaction. High FCR indicates effective problem-solving without the need for follow-up, which is vital in a fast-paced phygital environment.
  • Average Handling Time (AHT): This tracks the average duration of customer interactions, including both talk time and after-call work. While efficiency is key, it’s important to balance speed with quality of service.