Here’s a math quiz: If there are 1 billion devices operating in today’s connected homes and some of these devices work alone, others in tandem (smart speakers and smart TV), and others in groups of three or more (smart doorbell, surveillance cameras and smartphone app), how many support calls are ISP Customer Care Centers likely to receive?
The answer is: Far more than they can possibly handle.
Snap, Crackle and Pop
ISP Customer Care staffs are already stretched beyond their breaking point. The support operation is out of control, shooting up in expenses every month, and not even coming close to coping with the onslaught of support calls emanating from their subscribers’ increased use of multitudes of new devices and services.
Let’s not even discuss the impossibility of any hypothetical mass of ultra-trained CSRs having access to enough scripts and information to deal with the myriad permutations of devices working—and not working—together. There are many times more permutations than there are dollars in the US national debt!
Sure, ISPs can tell all their subscribers who call for support that they bought their smart devices on their own and, even though the devices and services are connected to the Internet via the ISP router, subscribers shouldn’t expect the ISP—who never sold them any of this stuff anyway—to be the address for their support needs.
But that is a great way to break subscriber-churn records.
Here’s a better answer to the math quiz: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can prevent many support calls, improving the cost and efficiency of the ISP support operation while contributing mightily to subscriber experience and satisfaction.
That’s a great way to prevent churn and cut costs at the same time.
Location, Location, Location
Think of a Netflix movie streaming from a cloud server, through the Internet, into the home via the router, into the air via the WiFi and, finally, to the smart TV and speakers. All those packets of information have to traverse that entire trip to be of any use to the movie viewer. If the stream fails anywhere along that service delivery chain, the experience becomes miserable and liable turn into a support call from an unhappy subscriber.
The primary task of the AI is to monitor all the devices and services all the time. If the AI can (1) detect a problem as it happens and (2) determine where along the service-delivery chain the problem occurs, it can immediately decide if it is the territorial responsibility of the ISP (router, WiFi) or beyond the scope of the ISP (Netflix cloud service, Internet, or a faulty TV).
Automatic detection and location of problems is the basis for deflecting support calls. But the story continues.
After detection and analysis, the AI will be able to repair the problem by itself (in many cases), especially if the problem is related to the WiFi, the main (but not only) territorial responsibility of the ISP. Noticing saturation, interference and other conditions, the AI can switch channels or take other measures to solve the problem on the spot. The subscriber won’t even notice the problem and will not make a support call at all.
That’s certainly welcome news to the ISP Customer Care Center. The Marketing Department will be pleased as well, knowing that this subscriber’s problem was repaired automatically. There’s not much risk of churn when everything is fixed automatically, and the subscriber experience is always maintained at a high level.
Notify, Notify, Notify
If, in real time, the AI detects a problem, automatically locates it along the service-delivery chain, and determines that it is not the fault of the ISP, it can take actions that also will deflect a service call to the ISP.
Here’s an example. Let’s say the problem is found to be related to the Netflix cloud service—it’s slow. The AI can instruct the subscriber to direct her call for help to Netflix and not to the ISP.
If the problem is found to be within a device, that information is also valuable to the subscriber who, once again, will not bother the ISP to solve it for her, but instead, will chase after the device manufacturer or the retail outlet that sold her the device. That will deflect a call from the ISP and help the subscriber obtain a proper solution.
But, in the real world, many subscribers will call ISP Customer Care for support no matter what. What can the AI do in these cases?
Upon detecting a problem, the AI can notify ISP CSRs of its analysis, giving them the vital information of the location of the problem. If a CSR knows that the problem isn’t in the ISP’s realm, he can direct the subscriber where to look. If it is in the ISP realm, the AI has already analyzed the problem—located and diagnosed it—for the CSR, eliminating all that time-consuming and irritating “turn off and on the router, make sure all the cables are connected, etc.” dialogue. The AI’s notification arms the CSR, slashing Handling Time of the support call and boosting First Call Resolution.
Now, let’s say that the AI has determined that the problem does, indeed, belong to the ISP. For example, the AI’s automatic analysis has determined that the location of the problem is in the WiFi within the home and the diagnosis reveals that there is intermittent neighbor interference. The AI’s notification to the CSR will inform him that an expensive router replacement is not a solution in this case, and he won’t order one. He will instead concentrate on an effective solution to the interference, the real root cause of the problem.
AI is the savior of ISP Customer Care.