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

Complex shopping processes and ineffective digital engagement options are causing consumer frustration, leading them to resort to expensive live agent interactions.

This report unveils findings from our recent study, examining Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and their customers in the US and UK. We reveal insights into current buying challenges and the transformative potential of AI to enable human-centric experiences.

Key findings - to be full width images?

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

Nearly half (48%) of CSPs admit they would not feel very confident completing a purchase based on the online buying process they provide to their customers

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 (24%) of consumers

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

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A desire for personalised recommendations

Consumers increasingly expect online interactions to match the tailored support they receive in-store. If personalisation is lacking, 44% of businesses acknowledge that customers will turn to live agents, while many consumers prefer in-store shopping for instant assistance and tailored recommendations.

23% of consumers feel that service providers fail to offer personalised loyalty schemes that would encourage them to purchase a different device brand. In the UK, 19% of consumers have no loyalty to a specific provider or brand, highlighting missed opportunities for CSPs not offering personalised packages.

But what lies behind their incapability to offer personalised services?

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The costly implications for businesses

With chatbots and unsatisfactory online experiences driving customers to physical stores, 70% of telco companies report conversion rates for new prospects online are below 5%. In the UK, this challenge is even more pronounced.

Investments in bid-based online advertising, live customer experience agents, app optimisation, SEO strategies, and social media promotions aim to engage prospects, yet these efforts only bring consumers to the website. Despite 21% of consumers visiting telco websites with the intention to purchase, CSPs are failing to convert a significant portion of these potential sales.

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The increasing importance of replicating the human in 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, personalised recommendations, address objections effectively, and close more sales.

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Conclusion

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.

Integrating consumer psychology into AI solutions helps deliver personalised offerings, enhancing satisfaction, loyalty, and CLV.

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

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