Vodacom uses chatbot to enhance customer engagement

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 07 May 2020

With social distancing becoming the norm amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have quickly had to find solutions to ensure the safety of their customers and employees.

For Vodacom, this meant stepping up its reliance on its chatbot, TOBi, which, according to the mobile operator, has quickly become an essential self-service agent in its team.

Vodacom says TOBi uses artificial intelligence technology to help resolve issues as quickly and efficiently as possible online, to ensure minimal disruption to customer services.

The company reveals that TOBi now solves 10 000 to 20 000 customer queries a day via SMS, WhatsApp, the My Vodacom app and on the Vodacom Web site.

“Since TOBi’s launch, we have seen how the deployment of a powerful chatbot can transform the way our customers engage with the brand, especially when the chatbot is of high quality,” says Ugestra Alwar, managing executive for customer operations at Vodacom.

“This is why we are constantly working at expanding the capabilities – making self-service easier and more convenient. We strive to create a seamless and personal experience for customers who require assistance while reducing strain on our call centre agents already dealing with volume on a daily basis.”

With the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown under way, Vodacom says various new functionalities have been added to enhance TOBi.

These include giving customers the ability to buy airtime and bundles (even through WhatsApp), paying using the Payment Gateway, activate and deactivate Caller Line Identity Presentation, and creating a new and improved prepaid SIM swap journey.

Vodacom adds that all of TOBi’s functionalities are fully secure, with one-time password authentication systems in place.

TOBi has been designed to be more than just a frequently asked questions bot, says Ryno Booyens, TOBi product owner.

“The telecommunication environment is highly technical and TOBi’s ability to answer end-to-end queries sets him apart from the rest. TOBi is a fully engaged model with journeys that are integrated into Vodacom’s various systems that can provide real-time solutions for customers.”

Booyens indicates that a number of new functionalities will be added to TOBi in the very near future. “From simple tasks such as weather services to more complex requests such as paying utilities. New language modules, specifically isiZulu, will be added, while TOBi’s personality is also being enhanced to create an enjoyable customer interaction.”

Financial services have also been identified as a key area, with new functionalities in the pipeline, he concludes.