AI-based unified digital messaging amplifies the customer experience

Longtime Genesys™ customer Vodafone Germany wanted to simplify and standardise its messaging while ensuring customers were well served. They introduced one central team dedicated to messaging along with a chatbot (TOBi) that integrates with WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and SMS. With TOBi fielding 100% of all messaging conversations, first-contact success rates increased from 16% on launch to 44%.

Watch the video

100% of messaging conversations fielded by TOBi chatbot

Over 230 customer intents programmed

44% of inquiries now resolved by AI, up from 16%

Freed up agents for other tasks

Improved collaboration and knowledge sharing

This is the best contact centre I could have imagined. We’ve been ranked the number one Vodafone contact centre worldwide. And with the new innovative channels we’ve developed, we know there’s a lot more to come.

— Jörg Knoop, Technology Digital Incubator, Vodafone Germany

Digital, mobile-first omnichannel strategy

One of Germany’s largest telecommunications companies, Vodafone prides itself on high-quality customer service. Omnichannel foundations were laid several years ago when Genesys helped bring people and technology together in one virtual contact centre.

More than 10,000 agents were empowered with full visibility of the customer journey as they moved between voice, chat, email and social media channels. Leveraging Genesys APIs, Vodafone technicians integrated the Genesys™ solution with the company’s mobile application. So, when agents accepted a call or chat, their desktops instantly displayed customer activities across all channels, further boosting customer experience.

Consolidating messaging platforms

The next challenge was to standardise messaging services, ensuring customers always got fast answers and information. Rather than siloed pools of agents who handled WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat and SMS contacts, Vodafone wanted to simplify and consolidate management through one central team of messaging specialists.

“In the call centre world, it’s all about average handle time and first call resolution,” said Jörg Knoop, Technology Digital Incubator for Vodafone GmbH. “Moving to a digital messaging centre is a completely different mindset. Suddenly, agents can find themselves in a quiet environment receiving messages, while supervisors struggle to get the insight and control they had with voice communications.”

Ingenious chatbot integration

To overcome these challenges, Vodafone launched the intelligent chatbot, TOBi. Assisted by IBM Watson-powered artificial intelligence (AI), TOBi gives customers a personalised, around-the-clock concierge. If the bot cannot resolve the inquiry, the conversation is quickly routed to a human agent, with everything managed via a single screen. Another innovation is that Vodafone experts use Genesys Bot Gateways and open APIs.

“It wasn’t a multi-month project costing a small fortune,” added Knoop. “You just need to plug APIs together. It was done in a matter of days. Similarly, we used open APIs to create a smart workaround, which allows us to extract an audio file, run it through a voice recognition engine and ingest the text so TOBi can handle such conversations. That innovation took less than two weeks — from design to production.”

All set for digital growth

Now, TOBi fields 100% of all messaging conversations and understands more than 230 customer intents. First-contact success rates increased from 16% on launch to 44%.

Users of the digital service aren’t stereotypical. “You might expect to deal mostly with younger customers, but that isn’t the case, probably because everyone messages friends and families every day,” said Knoop.

“Also, inquiries can actually be quite complex. So, messaging is often the customer’s go-to channel because they can carry around a complete record of the conversation on their smartphone that enables them to retrieve order numbers, installation codes and so on.”

With 1,500 agents already dedicated to messaging, Vodafone is strongly positioned at the forefront of digital customer experience. “In Germany, 95% of all smartphones have WhatsApp installed and it comprises around 80% of messages, followed by Apple Business Chat at 15% and SMS text at 5%,” Knoop concluded. “Within the next two years, we expect messaging to account for half of all contacts. Customers especially like the fact they can send a photo or screenshot of a bill or red flickering router, for example, and TOBi will instantly recognise it.”

Within the next two years, we expect messaging to account for half of all contacts.

— Jörg Knoop, Technology Digital Incubator, Vodafone GmbH

The transmission of photos, videos and voice messages is seamless and customers are completely free to enjoy all the benefits of WhatsApp. In the last quarter of 2019, Vodafone customers sent 120,000 images, videos, voice messages and documents via WhatsApp, while TOBi learned to analyse and categorise them meaningfully. Afterward, that data is incredibly helpful to agents in solving customer concerns — significantly simplifying customer communication.

At a glance

Customer: Vodafone GmbH

Industry: Telecommunications

Location: Germany

Company size: 16,000-plus external agents


  • Leverage AI to consolidate digital platforms
  • Create a centre of excellence for messaging and understand operations



Additional resources

Case study PDF