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Telstra scales up AI adoption following promising pilots of generative AI solutions improving customer experience

Telstra is expanding two in-house developed generative AI solutions following promising pilots with frontline team members, enabling faster and more successful interactions with customers.

Leveraging the power of Microsoft Cloud and its Azure OpenAI capabilities, and built in our secure platforms to protect consumer privacy, One Sentence Summary and Ask Telstra were designed with Telstra to arm frontline teams to support customers more effectively.

Utilising Azure OpenAI’s large language model, One Sentence Summary transforms recent customer notes, interactions, and transactions into a concise summary of a customer’s recent history and status. The solution enhances the efficiency and quality of interactions, reducing the need for customers to repeat information.

Trials during 2023 showed 90% of employees using the tool saved time and increased effectiveness, resulting in 20% less follow-up contact. Team members also noted the tool enabled them to more quickly understand and tactfully engage with challenging or sensitive circumstances, such as those in need of priority or financial assistance. Telstra is now extending the roll-out of One Sentence Summary to all contact centre and store teams throughout 2024.

Similarly, Ask Telstra enables employees to search the company’s extensive internal knowledge bases quickly and easily for information. Powered by the latest Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and Azure AI Search, Ask Telstra gives AI generated responses to employee queries, presented via a simple search interface. The technology is grounded in Telstra’s trusted and secure corporate information resources.

Team members involved in the pilot were able to more quickly and easily gather information to support customers, with over 80% agreeing the technology has a positive impact on customer interactions. Initially available to 200 Telstra frontline team members in late 2023, Ask Telstra will begin to roll out to all contact centre and store teams through 2024.

Telstra’s ability to quickly innovate and unlock the power of AI solutions has been enabled by the radical simplification and modernisation of the data ecosystem, in collaboration with partners including Microsoft and Accenture. Underpinning this transformation are robust frameworks and controls ensuring the responsible, ethical, and secure development of AI solutions.

Kim Krogh Andersen, Telstra’s Group Executive Product & Technology, says this work has positioned the business to effectively and responsibly harness the power of generative AI.

“We’re at a profound juncture in a new era of transformation, and it’s one that we’re navigating in lockstep with our partners. Our deep, strategic relationship with Microsoft is positioning us well to unlock value and growth as technologies like generative AI proliferate at speed.”

“We’ve been on a journey of simplification and modernisation over a number of years. We’ve simplified our technology architecture and shifted to a 100% API-first approach to product development. We’re also migrating workloads to the public cloud and building reusable AI capabilities. Our collaboration with Accenture is now helping to accelerate the work we have ahead. It’s a massive undertaking, but it has put us in a position to now rapidly scale bespoke generative AI tools, like Ask Telstra and One Sentence Summary, that can really shift the dial when it comes to helping our teams provide quicker, more effective, and more personalised customer interactions.”

Strong, strategic partnerships, like ours with Microsoft and Accenture, are critical to our shared success. By collaborating and leveraging each other’s strengths, we can ignite innovation and deliver the best products and services for our customers.

“It’s exciting to see Telstra continue its leadership in AI, by harnessing the power of the Microsoft Cloud and Azure OpenAI Service to enhance their employee’s productivity and increase customer satisfaction,” said Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia & New Zealand. “We are proud to be a part of this journey and look forward to seeing the continued impact these AI solutions have on Telstra’s frontline workers and more broadly across the organisation.”

Karthik Narain, Group Chief Executive, Technology at Accenture, said “Our deep partnership with Telstra is focused on accelerating its efforts to become an AI-fuelled organisation. By radically simplifying and modernising legacy data estates, Telstra is building a secure digital core to adopt and scale more advanced generative AI capabilities.  In addition, Telstra’s approach to developing and maintaining responsible and ethical AI is recognised by global industry bodies and will serve as a benchmark.  We hope this market-leading work will encourage further advancements through data and AI.”

Two Caucasian men sitting on stage infront of a group of people.
Left to right: Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia & New Zealand and Kim Krogh Andersen, Telstra’s Group Executive Product & Technology.