VodafoneZiggo, one of the major telecommunications providers in the Netherlands, has partnered with Xomnia to make the Business Scan, an online tool that makes personalized product recommendations for the small and medium sized business clients without the need to involve account managers in the early stages of a client’s inquiry.
With the aid of the Business Scan on Vodafone Ziggo’s website, B2B clients looking for a service can answer a number of statements about their company, and based on the answers will get a list of service or product suggestions that best match their needs and industries. This process can happen at the convenience of the client, and will provide them only with the products that are relevant to their businesses.
"In a very short amount of time, we have created a recommendation engine for our B2B SME customers and prospects. This happened in close cooperation with our Salesforce Commerce Cloud team, our UX designer, data analyst and Chiel from Xomnia. The first MVP is not only a serious solid first step in AI/machine learning for VodafoneZiggo B2B, but is also futureproof, as the solution is fully embedded in our Salesforce stack. We will continue to improve the Business Scan based upon this first MVP” - Remco Kers, Cluster Segment Lead, Head of B2B SME Innovation Cluster in VodafoneZiggo
Individual consumers are familiar with how to visit and navigate a website to purchase a service or product. Selling to B2B accounts, however, is a different experience that involves a wider array of products that are more tailored to specific needs. This makes it challenging to choose the right service or product without the assistance of an account manager.
In order to increase the efficiency of the B2B customer service, VodafoneZiggo has partnered with Xomnia to build a personalized experience on its website where customers can find the best services and products more easily and transparently. This experience identifies the needs of a business and recommends the services and products that match the customer.
With the aid of Vodafone Ziggo’s marketing and development teams, a team of data engineers and machine learning engineers from Xomnia created the business scan on VodafoneZiggo’s website. The scan asks the client questions about their needs, followed by questions about the client’s company itself (office location, size of premises, staff size).
Based on this information, a recommender engine will suggest the best products for the customer. The recommender engine provides those suggestions based on the services used by similar existing customers. This solution involves machine learning via a gradient boosting framework that uses tree-based learning algorithms. As a backup, the recommender engine also uses a set of rules to avoid incompatible product combinations.
At this stage, the questions that appear in the business scan are generic to all users, but in the coming few months, the team will work on making the machine learning more transparent, so that it can also explain why a specific recommendation was given. This will be done by making the recommender engine incorporate more personalization, which will allow following more dynamic paths, so that questions change based on answers given to earlier questions, and redundant questions are eliminated. This will further enhance the experience of the customer and allow for even more personalized product recommendations.
It is worthy to note that the telecommunications provider has recently moved from an on-premise environment to the cloud, and this project is among the first to integrate Artificial Intelligence in the new cloud environment and integrate it in other systems within the company.
The recommender engine is at the end of phase 1 (minimum viable product). However, it is already helping customers on VodafoneZiggo’s website in what they need from among all of the possible products and services. This shows that using machine learning to create a more personalized experience adds value for both the businesses and VodafoneZiggo.