Humanising the online buying journey:
AI's role in telecom sales

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In the telecommunications retail market, the appetite to buy goods online is growing. But product choice and complexity means interactions with a sales expert is still vital for many shoppers.

This report unveils findings from our recent study, polling both telco providers and consumers from the UK and US about current online buying journeys. We reveal insights into the experiences and challenges of using digital sales channels, and the transformative potential of AI to enable human-centric experiences.

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Uncover the challenges and opportunities facing both CSPs and consumers here

Key findings

98% of CSP providers face challenges in replicating the human buying experience online

Nearly half of CSPs admit they would not feel very confident completing a purchase based on their online buying process

Consumers desire human-like interaction online, with 52% saying the online buying journey currently lacks it

Chatbots are the top frustration when shopping online for nearly a quarter of consumers

The online versus in-store obstacle confronting CSPs

Communication service providers (CSPs) are balancing investments between online channels and in-store sales assistants. While 77% agree that customers prefer a virtual buying journey, nearly half of CSPs lack confidence in their own online buying experience.

As telecom services expand, the demand for expert consultancy grows. However, replicating the human buying experience online remains a significant challenge, with 98% of CSPs struggling to achieve this.

With almost one-in -five consumers only willing to spend 10 minutes shopping online, CSPs must deliver timely, personalised recommendations to enhance the virtual buying journey.

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Difficult conversations with chatbots

Consumers are increasingly desiring human-like interactions online, with 52% reporting that current online buying journeys lack this element.

Despite significant investments in chatbots, these technologies are causing frustration for consumers. A notable portion of shoppers cite chatbots’ inability to answer specific questions as a key annoyance, with one in five consumers saying they bypass chatbots altogether.

Businesses need to elevate their online services to match the in-person experience, starting by assessing the tools currently in use.

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A desire for personalised recommendations

Consumers expect online interactions to mirror the personalised assistance they receive in physical stores. If personalisation is absent, 44% of businesses admit that consumers will seek help from live agents.

When it comes to tailored loyalty programs, 23% of consumers feel that service providers miss the mark in motivating them to switch device brands. In the UK, 19% of consumers have no loyalty to any specific provider or brand, highlighting untapped opportunities for CSPs failing to offer personalised services.

But what lies behind their incapability to offer personalised online services?

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The costly implications for businesses

With chatbots and unsatisfactory online experiences driving customers to physical stores, most telco companies report low online conversion rates for new prospects.

Investments in bid-based online advertising, app optimisation, SEO strategies, and social media promotions aim to engage prospects, yet these efforts are only bringing consumers to the website. Despite 20% of consumers visiting telco websites with the intention to purchase, CSPs are failing to convert a significant portion of these into sales.

Replicating human selling with AI

All CSPs surveyed are using AI to enhance customer experiences, with 86% increasing their investment in AI for optimising online sales.

Businesses have identified consumer fears regarding AI, including its inability to replicate human expertise, lack of transparency, and ethical concerns. Despite these challenges, there is a significant opportunity for CSPs to differentiate by integrating human psychology into AI model training.

With 92% of organisations acknowledging the importance of consumer psychology in the online sales process, leveraging tools that combine advanced AI with human sales expertise can empower CSPs to improve online conversion rates, personalise recommendations, address objections effectively, and close more sales.

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Despite significant investments in online purchasing experiences, CSPs are struggling to achieve a sufficient ROI. Digital channels often contribute to poor buying experiences due to inadequate personalised real-time support and tools that fail to understand human psychology.

As CSPs increasingly adopt AI-driven services to enhance customer experience, they face challenges related to privacy concerns, bias, and capability perceptions. Authentic person-to-person interactions can set businesses apart, increasing sales and loyalty.

By integrating consumer psychology into their AI solutions, businesses can deliver personalised offerings, enhance overall satisfaction, increase customer loyalty, and ultimately drive increased revenue.

To find out more about how 15gifts is helping businesses solve these challenges, get in touch.

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