Francophone Africa looks to chatbots for call centre cost efficiency and better Customer Experience
Companies across Africa’s Francophone region are implementing chatbot solutions as they seek to attain greater cost efficiencies and improve Customer Experience (CX).
This is according to Faical Lahlou, Regional Manager at Infobip Francophone Africa, who notes that as chatbots become more refined, cheaper and easier to deploy, an increasing number of companies in the region is recognising the benefits that can be gained from this technology.
“Chatbots can effectively take repetitious workloads off call centre agents, which automatically lowers operational costs as companies require fewer employees and less infrastructure in terms of office space and equipment. They also help to increase efficiency and interestingly also help raise agent work satisfaction who are freed up to deal with more complex issues, cross and up-sell even ,” he says.
At the same time, chatbots can also help businesses scale up – whether internationally or within their local markets – which is much harder to achieve with human employees.
“Chatbots can handle numerous customer engagements at the same time, and – from the moment of deployment – can provide the quality and standard of services that the enterprise requires,” says Lahlou.
“On the other hand, agents need to be trained and their performance has to be monitored to achieve the same quality of service, which obviously make scalability more difficult to achieve.”
In terms of customer engagement, chatbots can respond to queries faster, more consistently and accurately, and are available 24/7, allowing customers to communicate with organisations at a time when it suits them. This, says Lahlou, leads to enhanced CX and greater customer satisfaction.
As in other parts of the world, chatbot adoption within Africa’s Francophone region has been strong among enterprises that offer large-scale customer support, says Lahlou, adding that the financial service sector has been leading in terms of the deployment of bot technology.
“Financial services companies, such as banks, are using bots to handle repetitive customer queries and some are even relying on these solutions to upsell their products and services,” he says.
“In addition, there has been uptake within the travel industry, where companies are deploying chatbots to handle FAQs, such as queries about flight times, lost baggage and boarding gates.”
Kanza El Ouazzani, Presales Engineer at Infobip Francophone Africa, says the growth potential for chatbot solutions within the region remains strong, as customer demand is one of the strongest drivers for adoption among enterprises.
“We are seeing a big demand from companies that want chatbots deployed over the WhatsApp channel, as this is the preferred communication channel for most end users,” she says.
El Ouazzani points out that chatbots have already completely changed the world of communications, and more is yet to come, with Gartner predicting that 80% of businesses are expected to have some sort of chatbot automation by this year. Moreover, Gartner expects 70% of white collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis by 2022.
Driving business communication
It is, therefore, inevitable that the chatbot industry will become the driving force of business communications in Francophone, and with technological advancement, bots will become more intelligent to understand the conversations and the intent of the queries.
“This is good news, as the consumer will be able to get information instantly, while companies will be able to save costs. At the same time, call centre agents will utilise their time better to attend to tasks that add real value to the organisation,” El Ouazzani says.
She adds that adding intelligent elements, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), to chatbot solutions has been a true game-changer for business communications.
“For example, in Francophone Africa, we speak many different languages and we often mix these languages, such as French and Arabic. Moreover, we’ll often speak in one language and write in another. The power of AI-enhanced chatbots means that they can be trained to understand these various languages and effortlessly switch between them as needed,” El Oouazzani says.
“Intelligent chatbots can adapt to constantly changing markets and trends, and new languages and channels can be added as businesses scale. This is truly transformative from the perspective of communication.”
In future more and more organisations will start implementing and utilising chatbot technology to interact with their customers. However, these companies need to ensure that they partner with the right technology partner that will ensure to mitigate challenges such as localisation and failure to imitate human conversations. Moreover, these businesses need a partner that will improve customer satisfaction and ultimately the customer experience with this technology.