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Uganda National Social Security Fund transforms customer experience with AI-based chatbot powered by Avaya

Uganda National Social Security Fund transforms customer experience with AI-based chatbot powered by Avaya

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The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a multi-trillion-shilling fund mandated by the government of Uganda through the NSSF Act, Cap 222 to provide social security services to employees in the private sector in that country. The NSSF is a secure, innovative, and dynamic social security provider that guarantees safety, security, and a competitive return on members’ savings of over 2% above the 10-year inflation average. Recently, the social security provider introduced powerful self-service capabilities with AI-powered digital customer assistant named ‘Sanyu’, based on Avaya technology. Richard Byarugaba, Managing Director, NSSF, tells Intelligent CIO Africa why it was important to automate customer interactions and how Sanyu has helped the company to reduce contact waiting times by providing easy self-service for routine transactions.

Richard Byarugaba, Managing Director, National Social Security Fund, Uganda.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a quasi-government agency responsible for the collection, safekeeping, responsible investment and distribution of retirement funds from employees of the private sector in Uganda who are not covered by the Government Retirement Scheme.

Founded in 1985 as a provident fund that covers all employees in the private sector, participation for both employers and employees is compulsory and the company is the largest pension fund in the countries of the East African Community, with assets of USh15.5 trillion (US$4.406 billion), as of June 2021.

Recently, the NSSF of Uganda has transformed its customer experience with powerful self-service capabilities by introducing an AI-powered digital customer assistant named ‘Sanyu’ based on Avaya technology.

According to the NSSF, Sanyu is an advanced chatbot that now serves as the company’s front line of customer service, is integrated into the organisation’s Avaya OneCloud CCaaS contact centre solution and a range of digital touchpoints. NSSF stated that following the implementation of Sanyu, the chatbot has reduced waiting times for customers who contact the organisation by providing easy self-service for routine transactions – in the process freeing up human agents so that they can address more complex requests.

As the national savings scheme mandated by the government of Uganda to provide social security services to all private-sector employees in the country, the organisation sees a very high volume of interactions and transactions and serves customers through multiple channels such as a web portal, app, messaging platforms, call centres, and a physical branch network.

Richard Byarugaba, Managing Director, NSSF, said: “We estimated that our customer service personnel were spending around three-quarters of their day on easily-answered queries, such as statement requests, registration, and frequently asked questions (FAQs). By automating most of these interactions, our agents now focus on transactions that require human intervention, typically at the higher end of the value chain. This transformation paid off during the pandemic, as lockdowns and distancing reduced our customers’ visits to physical branches and increased the demand on our call centres and online platforms.”

The deployment of an advanced AI-powered digital customer assistant chatbot with Avaya Technology comes as part of the NSSF’s latest effort to digitise the customer experience. Over the last two years the company has moved over 94% of its member transactions and interactions over to digital channels, remaining only with 6% of customers using walk-in service centres across the country. However, the digital shift has necessitated a transformation in how inbound requests are handled.

“We had been struggling to keep up with the high volume of frequent queries coming in, and we did not have a solution that offered customers the same experience and convenience on our various different digital platforms. We wanted to have unlimited capacity to respond instantly, any time, to customer queries. There was also a need to free up our front-end employees from routine support requests and enable them to focus on more complex tasks,” said Byarugaba.

Sanyu emerged as the solution, integrating into NSSF’s customer-facing interfaces such as a web portal, mobile app, mobile browser, and social messaging clients. The bot interacts with customers through text-based chat and delivers powerful self-service, automating workflows such as employer registration, member registration, member benefit tracking, member provisional balance, member statement and FAQs. And if it cannot serve the customer’s request, Sanyu seamlessly routes the query to the best available agent.

Since October 2020, nearly 164,000 customer transactions and interactions have been registered through Sanyu and the NSSF is confident the solution will contribute to an improvement in its net promoter score (NPS) and first contact resolution rates.

Businesses are built by the experiences they provide, and everyday millions of those experiences are delivered by Avaya Holdings Corp. Avaya is shaping what’s next for the future of work, with innovation and partnerships that deliver game-changing business benefits. The vendor’s cloud communications solutions and multi-cloud application ecosystem power personalised, intelligent, and effortless customer and employee experiences to help achieve strategic ambitions and desired outcomes.

Vinod Kumar Puthanpura, Territory Account Manager: West, East and Central Africa, Avaya, said: “With its deployment of Sanyu, NSSF is at the leading edge of infusing AI into the customer experience. With the powerful AI tools available to it through the Avaya OneCloud ecosystem, NSSF has introduced tremendous self-service capabilities that enhance both customer and employee experiences. and set the organisation well on its way to becoming a digital business. We look forward to further supporting the NSSF as it continues this journey.”

No matter what size your organisation is or what business you do, customer expectations are changing –rapidly and constantly–and you need to keep up. Whether you have a large-scale customer service operation or a few people taking customer calls, seamless cloud customer service solutions exist that make it easy for organisations to deliver amazing customer experiences while helping you maximise individual and team performance.

Not too long ago, there were two primary modes of communication for customer service: phone and fax. Today, the list is endless: voice, live chat, email, SMS, social media. Customers are also increasingly looking to serve themselves without any human intervention using voice, knowledge base articles, forum/message boards, and automated chat (which is easier than ever with simple app integration). Thanks to AI-powered technology from Avaya, the vendor is making it effortless for customers to connect with organisations and businesses across all communication channels and devices – both voice and digital – without confusion or complexity. Avaya believes that customers shouldn’t have to resort to a phone call because digital engagement isn’t designed for the job.

The NSSF Uganda manages assets worth over USh15.5 trillion (US$4.406 billion) at June 30, 2021, invested in fixed income, equities and real estate assets within the East Africa region. As the largest Fund in East Africa by value, the company has the ambitious goal of growing its Assets Under Management to USh20 trillion (US$5.6 billion) by 2025.

Since 2012, the fund is regulated by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority while Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is responsible for policy oversight.

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