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CIPC introduces artificial intelligence

Article provided by CIPC

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) is constantly reinventing itself to offer its end-users and stakeholders the best service possible. The latest innovation at the organisation is the use of artificial intelligence.

Towards the end of last year, after carefully scrutinising research into customer needs and behaviour, it started investing in the development of a chatbot. Since most of the organisational successes in the past resulted from incremental implementation of turnaround solutions, it approached this intervention in the same way.

Three tiers or phases have been identified for chatbot services. The first comprises information sharing through which customers could ask the bot about the service offering of the CIPC using its static (non-transactional) website. This service is currently in a pilot phase. The public is encouraged to use this information platform, which is on the home screen of the landing page www.cipc.co.za . To give the chatbot a personal touch, it adopted the organisational mascot name, Kgwebo, for interaction via this platform. The first phase of implementation of the chatbot has been in pilot since December 2021. On a weekly basis, in-depth data analysis is done. Based on the questions from end users and responses by the bot, the bot’s responses are enhanced. Initially only a fraction of questions were accurately responded to. To date, the bot has an accuracy rate of 70% with an average of 2000 queries per week. The aim is to improve this to 90%.

The second phase or tier is being developed and rollout hereof is planned for June this year. This second tier will enable customers to ask questions specific to their CIPC interactions such as: “how much do I owe in annual returns?” or “What is the status of my company registration application?” An extensive pilot period, probably until the end of the 2022 calendar year, is planned for this phase.

The final stage of the chatbot implementation relates to transactional services, i.e. an additional channel through which customers could obtain information about a service and continue applying for such services.

Parallel to the technical functionality, the objective is to make the chatbot as seamless as possible and to integrate it with the existing social media services which are now available on Twitter and Facebook on both the CIPC and Bizportal pages, the call centre, the Bizportal website as well as a dedicated WhatsApp line.

Ultimately, the CIPC aims to fulfil its goal of being available through all modern channels to its customers on a 24/7 basis. Currently access is granted through the following channels:

Walk-in centres in all nine provinces which uses biometrics as an identity verification tool

  • CIPC website (www.cipc.co.za) which offers two transactional platforms – e-services and new e-services.
  • Bizportal (www.bizportal.gov.za) which is a completely paperless and offers card payments as a payment option in addition to the existing virtual customer account.
  • Call centre which offers an opportunity for customers to gain access to information or follow up on their transactions.
  • Query Resolution System which is an online query tool which enables customers to lodge queries through a ticketing system.
  • Social media which is mainly an information dissemination tool.

The chatbot is envisaged to augment the existing tools and to aide in providing omni-channel solutions in an ever changing environment.

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