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Ever since Kenyan brands started using social media to actively offer customer service, things have really improved. One no longer has to wait for hours for the customer care line to be picked up, reducing the frustration that came with the thought of dialling 100.

With smartphone penetration in the country growing at a staggering rate, mobile internet traffic stands at 83%, more and more people are turning to social media, not only for communication and entertainment but for service delivery.

In an effort to enhance customer service delivery, Safaricom has turned to the use of chatbots to assist in simple tasks that do not require human interaction. Dubbed Zuri, the chatbot has been available under testing for a while now and has seen improvements made to it in the past few weeks. Zuri is available on Telegram and Messenger – the two most popular messaging apps that support bots.

Meet Zuri

The bot works exactly the same on both platforms, hence it comes down to which messaging app you prefer. During my interactions with Zuri, I used the service on Telegram and Messenger and I must say Zuri on Messenger is more colourful thanks to the use of images vis-a-vis buttons on Telegram but this the only difference.

At the moment, Zuri offers the following services; managing premium SMS subscriptions, M-Pesa reversals, Airtime top-up both through M-Pesa and Scratch cards, data bundle purchase, M-Pesa and Airtime balance enquiry and a few How To options.

Initiating a conversation with Zuri is as easy as sending a “hello” text message. Zuri will salute you back and introduce herself giving you options of the services she offers (mentioned above). The whole conversation is fool-proof since it is a matter of following prompts, however, the question arises as to why anyone would opt to use a chatbot over ways to access the same services, well, it’s simpler.

Premium SMS Service and M-Pesa Reversal

With a personal example, I got an SMS from Safaricom the other day alerting me that I was subscribed to one premium service that was consuming my airtime. Since I was not sure which service this was and the shortcode provided (which I cannot remember) seemed to have an issue, so I turned to Zuri.

Went to the Chargeable SMS Service menu, selected my phone number and simply tapped on “Unsubscribe all” and voila, my problem was solved. This is what got me excited but what got me hooked was the M-Pesa reversal. Fortunately, I have not yet had to perform any reversals, but I have always struggled with the process of doing so –  all I know is that you are supposed to send the transaction code to a certain number and since I never seem to remember which number this is, Zuri comes in very handy as all I have to do is copy-paste the M-Pesa transaction code onto our chat under the reversal menu and she takes care of the rest.

Safaricom Zuri M-Pesa Reversal

As of now, these two seem to be the most useful functions of Zuri but Safaricom says that they will continue improving the chatbot, packing it up with AI capability. Zuri might not be as witty as Safaricom’s well-known customer care reps and you might not chat up Zuri when boredom hits but for those looking for quick customer service solutions, Zuri will serve just as well.

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