School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Msizi Chatbot Goes Up a Notch!

Msizi Chatbot – a computer programme designed to mimic human conversations and provide predetermined answers by interpreting words given to it in the chat interface – has just got even more advanced!

Named Msizi – isiZulu for “helper”- the Bot was originally developed to assist those accessing the UKZN website found at the bottom right hand corner of a screen, appearing as a blue icon.

This year, however, Msizi has been upgraded to provide omni-channel messaging across various social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

On WhatsApp, the Bot is available only to students and can be contacted on +27 60 578 3215 via WhatsApp text. Send Msizi a message and it will instantly introduce itself and the various services on offer, making it easy for you to choose your desired options with it as a guide.

Commenting on Msizi, Mr Handsome Nyathikazi of Information and Communication Services (ICS) support said: ‘In addition to the Chatbot upgrade we have also incorporated a ticketing system where tickets can be created from conversations and assigned to the relevant people for action data collection, analysis and reporting.

‘Our sophisticated ticketing system does not only integrate well with the Msizi Chatbot on the UKZN website and WhatsApp but will also be able to pick up posts and comments and create tickets on Facebook. This system enables escalations, workflows and automation features which will ensure seamless and effective customer engagement going forward.’

As a conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chatbot, Msizi can answer thousands of questions simultaneously by using built-in algorithms to learn the patterns of both the staff and students it interacts with. The Chatbot sifts through Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to find the best solution for user questions and if unsuccessful it offers the user a chance to rephrase the question or chat with an agent.

The Chatbot can still be found on the UKZN website and has kept its core features of FAQs and a live chat interface.

Msizi will be available 24/7 with agents available to chat during UKZN’s working hours.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Image: Nhlakanipho Nxumalo