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Vodafone UK steps up its digital focus with new AI initiatives

Having abolished roaming charges in 50 destinations and introduced industry-leading care initiatives like TOBi the chatbot in April, Vodafone UK has made even more improvements that put customers' needs at the heart of its service including new AI digital customer service initiatives.

The initiatives include 24/7 social media care on Facebook and Twitter; 24/7 'Message us', a new support service that puts customers in control of how they contact Vodafone; and trialing of new voice authentication services, making it easier for customers to verify their identity, access their details quickly and receive an account update through Amazon's personal assistant, Alexa.

Vodafone has been working with some of the world's most sophisticated voice recognition technology companies to improve services for customers calling its 191 number for help. This includes testing a new capability that will free customers from having to remember passwords to access their account. By registering and repeating a pre-recorded phrase, customers can confirm their identity based on the unique sound of their voice. The operator is trialing it now and aims to complete its pilot study by the end of the summer.

The company also developed a fresh skill for Amazon's Alexa that will enable customers to ask the digital assistant for information about their Vodafone account. Once the customer has followed a simple authentication process, they can ask Alexa for billing data, account details and information about extras. The operator expects to launch the 'Ask Vodafone' skill later this summer.

Vodafone UK is also expanding its service capabilities using its chatbot TOBi, to provide customers with instant answers to specific questions about their account as well as advice on the best deals. When Vodafone launched TOBi in April, it became the first UK mobile provider to deploy an artificial intelligence chatbot to speed up responses to customer queries.

Initially used to answer popular support questions in Web Chat, TOBi's role has now been expanded to answer account-specific questions on subjects like roaming. TOBi can also offer advice on SIM only price plans. Already learning new skills, TOBi understands what a customer needs help with more than 90% of the time, and will be handling even more account transactions by year's end.

The operator has also been working on enhancements for better mobile coverage. This includes using existing masts to enhance indoor 4G coverage across many areas of the UK.

"Our new service offerings illustrate our commitment to putting our customers at the very heart of everything we do," said Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO. "Whether it's providing 24/7 customer care, developing innovative new digital services or outstanding indoor 4G coverage, we are determined to make our network and services easier to use, faster and more engaging for our customers than ever before."

Vodafone's current multi-billion-pound network modernization program has resulted in its most reliable network ever, with its call setup success rate at an all-time high, fewer dropped calls and the best indoor coverage the operator has recorded to date.

As part of Vodafone UK's commitment to deliver outstanding network performance, the company is combining some of its existing spectrum bands to increase the availability and quality of 4G services across major UK locations. This includes both outdoor and, crucially, indoor locations, to give customers confidence that Vodafone's network will be there when they need it.