Kenya has recently shown a real interest in chatbot technology evidenced by the fact that most organisations increasingly see it as a fast and effective way of enhancing the Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Engagement – driving efficiencies across their business.
This is according to Noah Amoke, Sales Executive for Kenya and Uganda at Infobip Africa, who says that the appetite for chatbots among enterprises in Kenya is largely driven by the realisation that they need to engage with customers on the platforms and channels of their choice, in a timeframe that today’s connected customers have come to expect
“This means that companies are opening more channels to communicate with their customers, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, web chat or email, and they want to offer a 24/7 consistent and standardised experience across all these channels. This can be done via a chatbot,” says Amoke.
Amoke notes that customisable chatbots, that support NLP, is a huge requirement in a multilingual country such as Kenya, where different dialects and languages are spoken, depending on the region.
“The increasing maturity of chatbot technology is also a driving factor for adoption. The current chatbots that are on the market have some limitations, especially in terms of understanding natural language. However, as more sophisticated chatbots become available, that offer with Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities, we expect to see much higher uptake.”
As Kenya is leading the continent in terms of smartphone penetration and Internet usage, the phone is key to most transactions and activities in the country. Kenya has a 91% penetration of mobile subscriptions, compared to Africa’s 80%.
It is not surprising then that the country’s enterprises need to provide a mobile-first platform that allows their customers to communicate with them via chat apps, that are available 24/7, which greatly enhances customer service.
“However, it’s not just about enhancing customer services. The appetite for chatbot solutions also stems from the fact that they can lower the operating costs of companies and provide efficiencies that call centre agents cannot,” says Amoke.
He points out that chatbots can deal with multiple queries at a time, and call centres that deploy chatbots need less physical infrastructure, such as office space, meaning that they need to employ fewer agents and can spend less on salaries hence lowers the cost of operations.
“It’s also about flexibility. A chatbot can be deployed over multiple communication channels, be it WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, web chat or email, and the quality and consistency of the response – the entire experience – remains unchanged across the various channels,” says Amoke.
Financial and telecoms uptake
George Muhia, Pre-sales Engineer at Infobip Africa, says uptake of chatbot technology has been particularly strong among organisations in the financial services and telecoms sectors in Kenya, but that other industries, such as retail, healthcare, and education have also shown a healthy interest.
“Chatbots can be deployed across any industry where a company wants to offer comprehensive customer support. Modern consumers want to ‘buy’ into experiences. Chatbots can assist organisations to deliver personalised experiences by making conversations relevant, interactive, and engaging,” he says.
Muhia explains that companies that are seeking to deploy a chatbot solution should look for an enterprise vendor that offers a customisable chatbot platform, offers good customer support and provides a solution that is innovative, with intelligent elements such as NLP.
“The key is that the solution is customisable, offers a programmable platform that can scale as the organisation requires, and can be fitted across any vertical. These days, chatbot solutions tend to be very robust and easy to use. Anyone can create a chatbot, without necessarily having IT or technical expertise, but it is best to team up with an experienced partner that can provide a flexible and scalable solution,” he concludes.
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