Infobip, a global cloud communication platform for businesses and a leader in omnichannel customer engagement, recently completed the implementation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered Chatbot on WhatsApp for Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Zenith Bank. Zenith Bank has over 500 branches and business offices in Nigeria and a customer base of more than 1.6 million accounts.

The solution, named ZiVA (Zenith Intelligent Virtual Assistant), enables the bank’s customers to perform financial transactions and enjoy real-time customer service from their mobile phones on a 24-hour basis.

With the capability to respond to chats or queries anchored on the existing WhatsApp platform, customers can open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and top up airtime. Furthermore, they can also confirm cheques, pay bills, apply for loans, block their accounts, and request mini statements, amongst other banking services.

A logical move

Commenting on the new banking solution, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Zenith Bank says: “The launch of ZiVA is driven by the need for additional secured channels of communication with our customers as we deepen our retail penetration.” 

“Since the behavioural pattern of the modern customer dictates that they want to engage with brands over the channel of their choice, it was important for us to implement this solution to continue creating value for our customers who were already using WhatsApp as a primary channel of communication,” Onyeagwu adds.

He notes that the implementation of WhatsApp also addressed several other challenges that Zenith Bank faced in terms of customer engagement. For example, he says the organisation traditionally experienced a high volume of voice calls coming into its contact centre and often struggled to handle this traffic efficiently.

“A large portion of these calls were from people calling with simple queries, such as account balance enquiries or opening of bank accounts. While we have live customer service agents to attend to customer issues, the sheer volume of calls resulted in long waiting times and many dropped calls.

“Most of these calls fell into the realm of self-service, so we wanted a solution that would allow us to automate this process and respond to these queries immediately, removing the pressure on live agents. ZiVA allows us to do this and customers can now transact with us via conversational banking.”

Dorotea Vatavuk, Enterprise Sales Lead at Infobip, notes that the AI-powered Chatbot on WhatsApp project was successfully and timeously implemented in large part due to the open and robust relationship that the company enjoys with Zenith Bank.

“We are extremely pleased to have been involved in this key project that opens up opportunities for Zenith Bank to significantly broaden the reach of its customer engagement. The power of WhatsApp as a business communication channel cannot be overstated as it is not limited to a specific customer demographic, but cuts across virtually the entire customer base,” says Vatavuk.

Reducing costs

The WhatsApp solution also allowed the bank to reduce its communication costs, as many customers use the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform to engage with the organisation. While these queries are often basic in nature and yielded no income for the bank, the cost of a USSD session is relatively high and would be borne by the bank.

Infobip, which previously implemented an SMS communication channel for Zenith Bank, was engaged at the end of 2020 to implement the WhatsApp solution. The channel was integrated into the bank’s existing communication platform, which already encompasses SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), a mobile app and an online portal. This is in addition to more traditional channels such as voice and email.

Infobip’s delivery of services and solutions is top-notch, with 24/7 support and a dedicated team to address any issues. The firm has had a long-standing collaboration and relationship with Zenith Bank that is both supportive and reliable.


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