Vodafone pumps €140m into GenAI-fuelled CX revamp

  • Vodafone Group has reallocated €140m towards a revamp of its customer experience (CX) capabilities
  • At the heart of the revamp is a GenAI-enabled chatbot, SuperTOBi
  • Microsoft’s GenAI platform is underpinning the upgraded chatbot and aiding Vodafone’s customer care staff 

By building on its wide-ranging and strategic relationship with Microsoft, unveiled in January this year, and reallocating €140m of investments, Vodafone Group is aiming to put generative AI (GenAI) technology to good use and do something that a lot of telcos talk about but rarely deliver – improve the experience of its customers. 

Vodafone has announced a “wide-reaching transformation of the customer experience” that will largely rely on the capabilities of Microsoft’s GenAI platform, Azure OpenAI, which will underpin the functionality of SuperTOBi, an updated version of its already widely used chatbot, as well as aid the telco’s customer care staff. 

Vodafone noted in January that Azure OpenAI would be used to enhance and underpin its consumer and enterprise customer experience interactions, including those via the telco’s existing digital assistant TOBi, to “provide a highly personalised and differentiated customer experience across multiple channels”. 

TOBi, which is currently deployed as a virtual customer care agent in 13 countries across Europe and Africa and understands 11 different languages, was launched as long ago as 2017 and was initially underpinned by IBM’s Watson platform and software from conversational commerce specialist LivePerson. 

With Azure OpenAI’s GenAI capabilities, Vodafone’s new version of the chatbot, SuperTOBi, can “understand and respond faster to complex customer enquiries better than traditional chatbots… [SuperTOBi] can interpret entire sentences and phrases, overcoming the limitations of existing chatbot technologies which typically can answer only simple questions based on a few key words. It also engages in more natural conversation with customers for a more personalised experience, rather than one- or two-word answers, and it will automatically transfer a question it can’t answer to a person that can,” according to Vodafone.  

SuperTOBi is already engaging with customers in Italy and Portugal. “Customers of Vodafone Portugal are already benefitting from SuperTOBi when booking appointments… the first-time resolution rate has increased from 15% to 60% and Vodafone’s online net promoter scores (where respondents are asked to rate their experience) improved by 14 points to 64 points – anything above 50 points is considered a strong result,” noted the telco, which is set to put SuperTOBi to work soon on answering billing queries.   

The GenAI-fuelled chatbot will be introduced in Germany and Turkey this month, with other markets to follow later in the year.

But even with the help of GenAI, a chatbot’s capabilities are still limited. Now, though, when interactions are passed on to human operatives, the customer care staff are also aided by GenAI in the form of a tool dubbed SuperAgent: It is based on Azure OpenAI’s Agent Copilot solution and helps staff to “quickly search and locate answers to complex queries or multiple questions.” At Vodafone Ireland, SuperAgent is being used to send customer care staff a summary of the interaction that a customer has already had with a chatbot so that customers don’t need to repeat themselves. The operator notes that the tool only uses information from Vodafone’s databases, “ensuring that the information is more reliable than public sources.” 

Microsoft’s GenAI platform is also sitting behind SuperSearch, a new search tool on Vodafone’s customer-facing websites.

The news that Vodafone is upgrading its customer experience interactions with the use of GenAI capabilities comes hot on the heels of a report from Vodafone and the London School of Economics, which suggests that businesses using AI could see a boost in customer trust scores if the technology is deployed with a human touch – Can AI help build customer trust? Vodafone reckons so.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.