How AI revolutionised the customer service industry

28 Apr 2023

Michael Ringman. Image: Telus International

Telus International’s CIO discusses why he’s excited about the growth of generative AI and shares his top security tips for companies.

Michael Ringman is the chief information officer at Telus International and has been with the company since 2012. Telus International designs, builds and delivers next-generation digital customer experience tools for global brands.

Prior to joining Telus International in 2012, Ringman was the VP of global infrastructure at TeleTech. Before that, he was a network consultant for IBM Global Services.

In his current role, he drives digital transformation and AI for both the team and the customers. He also consolidates infrastructure, builds out data warehouses in the cloud and ensures consistent uptime across all of Telus International areas.

I believe a CIO’s biggest job is to be a change agent,” he told “You need to create an environment in which your team is constantly innovating across all aspects of the business.”

‘The metaverse is widely considered to be the “next frontier” in the industry’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

The current macroeconomic environment has proved challenging in various aspects of the IT landscape. As we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important for organisations to have a robust tech stack and infrastructure in place to ensure companies have the agility to overcome exogenous shocks and allow work to continue seamlessly.

Companies and their functions can do this by using cloud platforms, virtual desktop interfaces and collaboration tools and apps.

One area we’re focused on right now is advancing our next-generation IT consulting and delivery capabilities. This includes AI-powered digital transformation services, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, open-source platform services, cloud services, over-the-top solutions, internet of things – the list goes on.

We have developed the talent, made ongoing investments in the necessary resources, built the global network and have the successful track record necessary to get the job done.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

Despite current macroeconomic uncertainties, the importance of digital transformation remains. Digital transformation represents an opportunity for businesses to implement and leverage next-gen technology to deliver the best CX for their customers.

Brands today are focused on creating and elevating differentiated customer experiences while also driving operational efficiencies – they are looking to do not only more, but better with less.

A recent study by Telus International found the majority of enterprise executives will be spending more on digital CX in 2023 compared to 2022, with customer service quality and supporting long-term and sustainable customer loyalty being key focus areas for leaders this year.

Additionally, respondents noted that customer relationship management (CRM) systems, AI and customer analytics will be the top digital CX investments for 2023.

How can sustainability be addressed from an IT perspective?

Sustainability is embedded into our core business strategy. We prioritise doing business in a way that encourages innovation, while also giving back to the communities where we live and work.

From an IT perspective, it is vital that organisations implement technologies and infrastructure that allow for work to continue seamlessly from anywhere, at any time. Companies can do this by leveraging AI, using cloud platforms, virtual desktop interfaces and collaboration tools and apps that can be accessed with a secure internet connection. This reduces the need to travel and in turn, helps reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

I believe that we’re at the beginning of a tech super-cycle that will have a significant impact on all industries. This transformation is largely driven by major advancements, such as generative AI, augmented and virtual reality applications, and the emergence of the metaverse.

The metaverse is widely considered to be the ‘next frontier’ in the industry, and while it’s still in its earliest stages, this new digital space is positioned to forever change the way we interact with the world around us.

In recent years, the functionality of these AI systems has grown to provide support beyond helping with simple tasks, and this will only continue to expand.

One tech trend I am particularly excited about is ChatGPT and other generative AI tools like Bard. They represent a significant step forward for AI chatbots, and the possibilities presented by these tools are seemingly endless in how we can leverage generative AI to design and build better bots that are more conversational, can better answer follow-up questions and admit mistakes, and even reject inappropriate requests.

AI is a phenomenal resource and one that has revolutionised the customer service industry, however it should not be the only thing an agent depends on. AI should work in tandem with the contact centre agent to provide real-time guidance to enable a frictionless and personalised customer experience.

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

Across all industries, fraud has become more pervasive and businesses are struggling to keep up. Offering safe and trusted platforms where customers can connect with brands and each other is essential for promoting positive user experiences as well as protecting brand reputation, business growth and customer loyalty.

Ensuring proper data security in any online environment is complex. In addition to monitoring and addressing issues in real time, brands must anticipate new and emerging threats and have the expertise, agility, technology, processes and controls in place, including AI and human content reviewers, to detect suspicious activity.

There are various tools and strategies that combine the most effective mix of resilient human support and technology automation to deliver a full-service framework to help brands actively manage risk, reputation, security and safety.

Know-your-customer (KYC) is a widely established practice in global finance and banking to combat money laundering and financial crime. This authentication method requires customers to provide some form of physical identification, such as a driver’s licence or utility bill, to help companies identify who they are dealing with and reduce risks.

Brands dealing with large-scale authentication require some form of automation. Companies can employ various AI-driven techniques, like face and voice recognition, to verify customers’ identities. Additionally, machine learning can be utilised to identify unusual behaviors or purchases made by users.

It’s also important that companies implement two-factor authentication as a measure to prevent fraudulent activities. Features like passphrases and one-time passcodes in addition to passwords can help drive stronger user safety.

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