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Vodafone supercharging customer experience with Microsoft’s GenAI tools

23 May 2024Technology news
4 minute read

Vodafone set out to transform the customer experience using Microsoft’s Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) technology in a far-reaching 10-year strategic partnership with Microsoft, announced in January this year.

Nearly six months on the signs are encouraging.

Hear from three Vodafone executives in the video below how the company is working on two innovative solutions – SuperTOBi and SuperAgent – to deliver a more personalised experience to customers based on the latest GenAI tools from Microsoft.


15 different languages, one platform

The first of these is super-charging TOBi, Vodafone’s existing virtual assistant which is already handling nearly 45 million customer questions per month in 13 countries using 15 different languages. Now with Microsoft Azure OpenAI, TOBi can better understand, and respond faster, to complex customer enquiries while providing them with a more personalised experience.

The second initiative, SuperAgent, is helping customer care agents break-free from repetitive tasks so that they have more time to help customers with complex queries or multiple questions. It also enables employees to develop/broaden their expertise, for example, an employee specialising in broadband-related matters could use the service to extend their knowledge to TV.

Both SuperTOBi and SuperAgent have been tested extensively at one of Vodafone’s call centres. Initial tests of SuperTOBi show an 50% improvement in first-time resolution of critical customer journey’s such as complex billing inquiries, as well as greater accuracy of responses overall.

SuperTOBi and SuperAgent are part of Vodafone’s wider customer experience programme, which the company is now rolling out across its operations.

Natural conversation with SuperTOBi

According to Beverley Bartlett, Head of Digital Care at Vodafone, TOBi can use GenAI to understand and respond in a better and more personal way than traditional chatbots.

“TOBi can now use Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service for a better experience and more natural conversation where more of our customers have their questions answered and issues resolved,” said Beverley.

Whilst SuperTOBi is resolving issues without personal contact, it will automatically transfer a question it can’t answer to a person that can. Beverley explained: “TOBi sends a summary of its customer conversation to the agent, so they can jump right in.” This avoids the need for a customer to repeat themselves, and by using SuperAgent they can avoid the customer being passed around and not getting their issue resolved. It helps agents solve more complicated problems by quickly locating the relevant information from the Vodafone-wide knowledge database.

Beverley added: “SuperAgent mirrors Microsoft Copilot to help our agents look up detailed information, ensuring they can rapidly resolve issues and provide more personalised customer care.” Previously, an agent might have had to scroll through many pages to answer a technical question, now, SuperAgent automatically calls up the correct information in a matter of seconds.

Increases employee skills

Ahmed Elsayed, CIO UK and Europe Digital Engineering Director at Vodafone pointed out that the information that comes back to the human agent isn’t generic or vague, it is specific and delivered in a more natural and dynamic language. In addition, SuperAgent can more quickly check call and online chat transcripts to determine whether additional training or information is required. “This helps increase the capacity and accuracy of SuperAgent over time, as well as the skills of our employees,” added Ahmed.

Underpinning both SuperTOBi and SuperAgent is Vodafone’s commitment to upholding data ethics and privacy through its AI Framework, developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, UK. This framework enables the ethical, unbiased, and explainable use of AI and adjacent technologies like machine learning (ML).

Responsible AI

Ignacio Garcia, CIO Italy & Global Director Data Analytics and AI, Vodafone Group, explained: “Going beyond just the technology, Microsoft’s commitment to responsible AI was a differentiator. As we work with new technologies, this is a critical foundation.”

Ignacio added that by leveraging Microsoft’s GenAI capabilities, customer call times have been reduced by at least one minute on average, saving both customers and agent’s time. He also noted that customer satisfaction scores are up, which bodes well for Vodafone as it maps a roll-out of the two solutions to additional call centres. Vodafone can use its geographical scale to develop GenAI applications once and re-use them across multiple markets to save money and give customers the same experience.

Beverley concluded: “The impact of GenAI is enormous and has huge potential for Vodafone and our customers. Expanding its use across our company, our network, and within customer solutions perfectly aligns with our mission of connecting people for a better future.”

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