How Artificial Intelligence is helping companies to improve their customer relationship: Vivo’s success story in Brazil

Kassandra Block    17 March, 2021

During the pandemic, the need for companies to use digital channels in order to provide a quality customer service has become evident. An example of this digitalisation in its customer relationship is Vivo in Brazil, whose slogan even before Covid-19 was “Digitalise to Bring Together”. They have seen how digital channels powered by Aura, Telefónica’s Artificial Intelligence, have experienced unprecedented growth during 2020.

If we compare the months of March and June 2020, Aura attendances via WhatsApp grew by 75%”, Fabricio Bindi, Director of Customers Insights and Artificial Intelligence at Vivo in Brazil, tells us. He has been in the communications industry for 15 years and today believes he has found his perfect fit as a professional “who can bridge the gap between business and technology, digitalise processes, think of a data architecture that enables effective AI and an excellent digital relationship with customers that will make all the difference.” During the pandemic they witnessed how “customers more used to traditional channels, such as stores and call centres, sought solutions that would solve their problems in a simple way, and the habit of using WhatsApp in their daily lives made it easy for them to adopt this channel.”

How Vivo Brasil launched its AI tool in Brazil

In 2018 Aura was implemented in Brazil with the purpose “to provide an increasingly excellent service to our customers, making their experience with Vivo even better.” With this, Vivo became the first operator in Brazil to launch an Artificial Intelligence tool. Since then, Aura has seen unstoppable growth in the country and has already accumulated about 580 million interactions, making it the most advanced and relevant channel of interaction with Vivo’s customers.

Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence: two fundamental pillars of customer relationship care

Aura is already present in 20 digital channels of Vivo in Brazil, including Vivo’s own channels and those of its partners, such as the Meu Vivo app, the call centre, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Google Assistant. Initially, interactions with the AI were mainly carried out through IVRs, where the customer would call and at some point, interact by voice with Aura.

According to Bindi “this channel was the most important until the end of 2019, when we had great growth in the use of messaging channels, especially WhatsApp and within our Meu Vivo app.” Today Aura “provides personalised solutions about services, data consumption, bills, recharges and other questions with over 90% accuracy.” This is how it accumulates more than 40 million queries per month, bringing value to customers by facilitating their day-to-day lives.

How Aura evolves thanks to the multidisciplinary team

For Fabricio Bindi, the success of Aura is closely linked to “the work of a multidisciplinary team, composed of software engineers, machine learning experts, linguists, User Experience professionals, data scientists and the staff of the Bot Training Centre (CT Bots, for its acronym in Portuguese), among others, who work to ensure that Aura is increasingly humanised and useful for our customers.”

It is a constantly evolving project, in which professionals learn with each new use case. For Fabricio Bindi, it is essential that the team works on “use cases that create a “WOW” effect on the customer, bringing real value to the user’s life.” They are convinced that AI empowers the human factor and creates new career opportunities because, after all, it is the experts who make Aura evolve. So, for example, Vivo’s top 20 call centre assistants form CT Bots, and listen to interactions between Aura and customers to identify possible inaccuracies, while working every day on improving its accuracy in understanding regionalisms or different accents.

How Vivo Brazil has helped to foster social support and sustainability

In the social field, Vivo supports groups at risk of social exclusion by bringing Internet to schools and hard-to-reach areas, as well as providing aid to hospitals and people in extreme poverty. It also has a strong commitment to the environment, focusing on recycling and sustainability. As Fabricio Bindi explains “Telefónica has a long-term commitment to Brazil.” Telefónica has not only invested around 400 billion Brazilian reals in the country to build the world’s most advanced telecommunications infrastructure, enabling the digital transformation that has allowed the economy and society to continue to function during the pandemic.

It also launched different actions during the pandemic in 2020 to help everyone get through it more peacefully. Fabricio Bindi here highlights “that the Fundação Telefônica Vivo has allocated, in an extraordinary way, about R$38 million to public hospitals in 12 Brazilian states, contributing to the purchase of consumables and equipment for ICUs and food for 60,000 families living in extreme poverty.” The foundation also offered during the closure of the public schools free courses on its online platform for teachers and pupils. In addition, 200 ventilators imported from China were purchased in collaboration with the banco Santander Brazil.

A commitment to sustainability

In terms of sustainability, Vivo Brazil is also a role model. We encourage recycling with the Recycle with Vivo programme, which offers the possibility of disposing of mobile phones, modems, chargers and batteries in the appropriate containers in all our shops, as Brazil is one of the largest producers of electronic waste in the world. With a new campaign, launched in 2020, they want to increase the collection and recycling of electronic devices by 20%, so that the public opts for responsible consumption.

Another initiative is Vivo Renova, where customers exchange their devices in good condition for newer models. Fabricio Bindi explains that at the company “we also offset 100% of direct greenhouse gas emissions. The use of renewable energy, combined with the purchase of carbon credits, allowed the company to anticipate the global target of the Telefónica group. In 2019 alone, Vivo cut CO2 emissions by 50% with the use of renewable energy.”

Next steps of Aura in Brazil

Thanks to Aura Vivo in Brazil has a very solid platform and is increasingly evolving towards a model that anticipates customer needs. To achieve this, they are implementing operations with Machine Learning. According to Fabricio Bindi “we want to make product and service recommendations, anticipate critical journeys, customise the experience each customer has and apply the best format for that customer.” These concepts are becoming more real everyday thanks to Aura and the digitalisation of the customer service.

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