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AI-powered tool helps PHL companies build customer communities

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By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

Telco firms said a marketing platform powered by artificial intelligence helped improve their business decisions, in turn, boosting their revenues and performance in bringing customer satisfaction — all, while cutting down on cost.

Vision Critical, a company based in Vancouver, has developed a cloud-based platform that helps companies obtain real-time feedback and insights from their customers.

The platform, named Sparq 3, has a so-called relationship memory feature which connects existing customer data with intelligence collected from insight communities.

“We know so much about our customers we can start predicting their responses,” Peter Harris, EVP and Managing Director, for Vision Critical’s APAC region, told BusinessWorld on Wednesday, May 9.

The platform has been adopted by more than 700 companies around the world including Yahoo, Allure, LinkedIn, Discovery Communications and ESPN. Most clients, however, engage in the finance, banking, insurance, airline and telco industries.

On the local front, six firms have so far been making use of the system. These are namely Smart Communications, Inc., PLDT, Inc., Globe Telecom, Inc., AXA Life Insurance Corp. (AXA Philippines), Jollibee Corp., and Cebu Air, Inc.

Emerson ‘Sandy’ Roque, AVP and Head of PLDT’d Enterprise Analytics said the firm’s adoption of Vision Critical’s products made a “big” impact on the company’s revenues.

“It’s really scaling our marketing research and making sure that we have higher response rates through our surveys and limiting our budgets because we used to spend a lot on market research,” Mr. Roque said in an interview with BusinessWorld at the New World Makati Hotel Wednesday.

After adopting the software in late-2016, PLDT was able to cut the practice of hiring third party companies that gather data.

This enabled the firm’s Enterprise Analytics division to trim by half its annual operating cost while survey results are delivered three times faster, according to Mr. Roque.

“We’re looking at renewing this moving forward,” Mr. Roque said in an interview on Wednesday in Makati City, noting that PLDT has renewed its one-year contract with the firm late last year.

For her part, Jennifer Jane G. Echevarria, Vice-President of Globe Telecom’s Analytics, Market Research, and Portfolio Management, said since partnering with Vision Critical, the division has cut down its annual cost on marketing surveys by 20%.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, parang consistent na whenever they ask how engaged you are, do you like it, the score has always been 8.2, higher than the normal average of 7,” Ms. Echevarria.

Compared to the previous practice wherein they can only view market insights months after customer responses are collated, the telco firms said Vision Critical has allowed them to view these consolidated results real time.

Companies conduct surveys to measure their satisfaction of their customers toward their products and services, seeing these as a way to improve their offering and make customer-centric decisions.

For his part, the firm is looking “to do more business” with its current clients.

“We look for markets where technologies work really well. In the Philippines, technology works well. It is very mobile and oriented platform,” he said in an interview in Makati City yesterday.

Mr. Harris said the firm continues to explore ways to expand its machine-learning system in its software, seeing AI as “a lot more powerful in the future.”

“By using AI to our platform, we will be able to answer more important questions,” he noted.

“We will improve our knowledge, quickly and predict more. So we might have to ask less questions because more will be known about customers based on integrating other information,” Mr. Harris added.