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COVID-19 news

TOBi steps in to keep employees and customers safe during COVID-19 lockdown

Thursday, 7 May 2020

With the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in full effect, Vodacom has put numerous measures in place to protect customers and employees. These include measures that has seen frontline agents now working from home and practicing social distancing as well as stepping up its reliance on TOBi - Vodacom’s chatbot - which has quickly become an essential self-service agent in Vodacom’s team.

Using the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, TOBi was created and designed to offer top-notch customer experience, helping to resolve issues as quickly and efficiently as possible online.

TOBi now solves between 10 000 to 20 000 customer queries a day via SMS, WhatsApp, the My Vodacom app and on the Vodacom website, to ensure minimal disruption to customer services and the good health of his human colleagues.

“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. 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,” says Ugestra Alwar, Managing Executive: Customer Operations at Vodacom.

Vodacom is constantly looking for new ways to improve TOBi.  For example, during this nationwide lockdown, 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 (CLIP) and creating a new and improved prepaid SIM Swap journey.

All TOBi’s functionalities are fully secure with OTP authentication systems in place.

Why use TOBi?

Using state of the art machine learning, TOBi can respond and interact with customers in a one-on-one chat-like experience and assist with several customer queries, some easy and others more complex. Additionally, TOBi is constantly learning.  As more than just a computer system, TOBi is backed up by a Neural Network Training Unit team that helps TOBi understand things and overcome any difficulties encountered.

In line with Vodacom’s objective of optimising the customer experience, Vodacom empowers its customers with the tools to use self-service. More importantly is that to provide a great service, TOBi has been designed to complement Vodacom’s human workforce. In doing so, this removes some of the mundane tasks for consultants, freeing them up to deliver expert care.

TOBi is available 24/7 which is especially convenient if you need information quickly or when 'after hours' support is not available. TOBi can successfully solve your queries nine times out of 10, and for customers who would rather speak to a live agent, TOBi can connect you to a consultant at any point.

What sets TOBi apart from the rest

TOBi has been designed to be more than just a frequently asked questions Bot. “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,” says Ryno Booyens, TOBi Product Owner.

Looking ahead there are a number of exciting functionalities that 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,” adds Booyens. Financial services have also been identified as a key area with new functionalities in the pipeline.

TOBi has been developed to give quick and easy access to information wherever and whenever customers are in need. TOBi is here to enhance the customer experience and improve the customer engagement process by being available instantly and ready to help day or night, 365 days in the year.

Customers can simply save TOBi as a contact on WhatsApp or SMS him using the number 082 009 8624. He can also be found on the Vodacom website or on the My Vodacom App.

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