How Yoco's Partnership with Bird Deflected Human Chats by 42% and Improved Customer Service

How Yoco's Partnership with Bird Deflected Human Chats by 42% and Improved Customer Service

South Africa



Here’s how Yoco is using Bird to improve customer service, deflect human chats by 42%, and keep up their retention as the leading payment provider in Africa.



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For South African fintech company Yoco, everything centers around the customer experience. They offer an entire payment ecosystem for businesses—card machines, payment portals, financial management tools—all with the goal of creating more inclusive financial tools for growing small to medium businesses.

Yoco has grown rapidly since launching in 2015, announcing $83M in Series C in 2021 and processing over $2 billion annually, with over 350,000 customers signed up. Their goal is not only to equip entrepreneurs with simple, efficient digital payments, but also to provide the tools and insights they need to manage their money and businesses effectively.

To do this, however, the Yoco customer experience is paramount. Which is why when their live chat feature wasn’t up to their standards, they switched to Bird.

Here’s how Yoco is using eBird to improve customer service, deflect human chats by 42%, and keep up their retention as the leading payment provider in Africa.

The search for a better omnichannel experience

When Yoco decided to switch to a large traditional CRM vendor for their customer service software in 2020, they soon realized that the live chat feature did not align with their brand image or provide the functionality they needed.

  • The chat solution looked too "corporate" for Yoco’s brand

  • The chat did not allow users to start a conversation and switch to WhatsApp, and connectivity issues often resulted in lost conversations.

  • Customer support was cumbersome, requiring merchants to fill out a form and wait in a queue.

Yoco needed a better solution.

“I thought, this can’t be as good as it gets,” Simone Santiago, Senior Product Manager at Yoco, said. “We were looking for true omnichannel integration—a seamless journey for customers to move through channels without losing context. We knew there had to be a better solution out there.”

Santiago and her team began the search for a solution that could better meet the needs of the company and their customers. The key things they were looking for were:

  • A customer-centric tool — They needed a tool that was simple for customers to use, reducing the need for customer support. When they did need customer support, that experience needed to be seamless as well—no forms or queues.

  • A true omnichannel experience — Yoco wanted to offer the ability to start a conversation on live chat, and then move to WhatsApp, and have the conversation persist across both channels. They didn’t want another solution that claims to be “omnichannel” but instead offers multiple channels with separate conversations.

  • A clear path to iteration and growth — As a fast-moving company, Yoco needed a solution that provided flexibility. In particular, Santiago wanted a platform that could easily scale their customer operations function without compromising the customer experience. 

How Bird fit the bill—and then some

After evaluating a variety of vendors, Yoco chose Bird to unify their customer communications. Not only did Bird meet what they were looking for as a customer-centric, omnichannel communications tool—Santiago and her team could clearly visualize how Bird could help their company scale.

“We saw a future where we could efficiently scale our customer operations as a function without needing to then scale our head count or increase our head count to match that growth,” Santiago said.

Santiago and her team were enticed by products like Bird’s Flow Builder, which allows businesses to scale operations while still providing a data-driven, personalized customer experience. Plus, the drag-and-drop functionality provided the no-code solution they were looking for.

“We were immediately drawn to Bird because of its unparalleled level of customization and flexibility,” Ian Heck, Senior System Specialist at Yoco, said. “Unlike other providers who simply offer pre-built solutions and force us to rely on them for development, Bird empowers us to take control of our customer experience and build it to our exact specifications. The ability to design, build, and edit our own bot experiences, flows, and communication was a game changer for us.”

This level of customization painted a bright future for Santiago and her team.

“Bird offers a high level of customization opportunities with drag-and drop-functionality. I knew we could create something great—if we can think it, we can build it. It was really exciting to imagine all the endless opportunities.”

“With Bird, we saw a future where we could efficiently scale our customer operations as a function without needing to then scale our headcount to match that growth.”

— Simone Santiago, Senior Product Manager, Yoco

How Yoco is using Bird to deflect human chats by 42%

Because Bird views each customer as a partnership, onboarding and implementation are a crucial part of the process. Santiago and her team felt this from the get-go.

“It was the best platform onboarding we've ever had,” she said. “It genuinely felt like we were working with a team who was there to help us build together.”

From there, Santiago and her team began using Bird right away. Here are some of the features they put in place immediately to reduce calls, deflect human chats, and improve customer experience:

  • Asynchronous support via live chat and WhatsApp 

As the predominant channel of choice for Yoco customers, it was important for WhatsApp to be front and center of their customer communications. By introducing support via live chat and WhatsApp channels, Yoco stays in sync with customer preferences while also saving time by deflecting calls to chat and messaging channels. Now, instead of being on one phone call, agents can handle 4-6 chats simultaneously.

The result?: Meeting customers where they’re at allows Yoco to provide a seamless, conversational, and customer-centric experience. By offering Live Chat and WhatsApp support, it eliminates the customer experience of being transferred to another call or waiting around for a call, and then having to re-explain why you’re calling. With connected channels, the agent will know what you’re looking for, and is better equipped to answer your questions.

“Our customers can now chat to us on their channel of choice and seamlessly switch between those channels throughout, depending on where they are in the journey or what their preference is,” Santiago said. “It's like you're picking up the conversation right where you left off, and that's the feeling we want to create.”

  • Proactive notifications

Before partnering with Bird, Yoco could not proactively send notifications or alerts to their merchants in case of any issues. This resulted in the merchants reaching out to Yoco when they were already frustrated and upset, leading to a poor customer experience. With Bird, Yoco can now send these notifications before merchants have to reach out, keeping their merchants informed and reducing the likelihood of an incoming merchant inquiry that may lead to frustration.

For example, when Yoco recently experienced downtime from one of the transactional services they were able to use a Bird widget to display a message to the merchants explaining the issue. They were also able to quickly send a message through their channels as well, reassuring their customers that they were aware of the technical issue and were resolving the problem.

“We were able to give our customers a heads up that something went wrong,” Ian Heck, Senior System Specialist, said. “Previously, we weren’t able to do that. We had to wait for a merchant to call in order for us to give them that information. So this was a great success for us to be able to do that through the Bird channels.”

  • Personalized self-service journeys

As part of this initiative to introduce more messaging-based customer support, the team at Yoco wanted to prioritize self-service first, with live agent support as a fallback option. To personalize this process, Yoco leveraged Bird's ability to integrate with other systems, such as their CRM (Salesforce).

This enabled Yoco to offer a more personalized self-service journey for its merchants. For example, if a merchant wants to know when their next payout is, Yoco is able to instantly verify their identity and give them the specific date they’re asking about.

The result? The ability to provide better support through messaging has led to a significant drop in customer support calls. In addition, 42% of inquiries are now successfully deflected by chatbots, massively reducing the number of Yoco users who have needed to speak to a live agent.

The future is chat

With big plans for their growth across Africa, Yoco will continue finding ways to keep their platform customer-centric while scaling to meet the growing needs of their business. Partners like Bird equip them to do just that.

“Our hope with Bird is that businesses can create personalized and engaging experiences that exceed customer expectations,” Asha Thurthi, Chief Product Officer at Bird, said. “We’re thrilled to see how Yoco is doing that for their customers, and look forward to helping them scale to serve even more entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

As the company continues to grow, the Yoco team is integrating Salesforce Marketing Cloud and WhatsApp for marketing-based activities such as merchant re-engagement campaigns and expanding into new territories, enabled by Bird’s email and language translation capabilities. 

One thing that will stay the same is the focus on chat communications. Having seen the impact of moving to WhatsApp and Live Chat, Santiago and her team believe this is the future.

“I think it’s helped us connect with our merchants on a deeper level, because we’re speaking to them where they’re at,” Santiago said. “There's actually a really good trajectory that this is a future where the majority of people are choosing chat as their first point of contact with us.”

About Yoco

Yoco is a leading fintech company based in South Africa that specializes in providing payment solutions for small businesses. Founded in 2015, Yoco has quickly become a major player in the African fintech market by offering a range of services that make it easy for small businesses to accept card payments, manage their finances, and grow their businesses.  Their innovative approach to financial technology is helping to bridge the gap between traditional banking and technology and is making it possible for small businesses in Africa to compete in the global marketplace.

About Bird

Bird’s mission is to create a world where communicating with a business is as easy as talking with a friend. We power communication between businesses and their customers — across any channel, always with the right context, and on every corner of the planet. If you’ve ever ordered takeaway, returned a package, contacted customer service, or requested a login code, it’s almost guaranteed your interactions have been powered by MessageBird’s technology.

Our platform, our applications and our APIs help businesses streamline conversations through their customers’ preferred channels — like WhatsApp, Email, SMS, Voice, WeChat, Messenger, Instagram — and build powerful and engaging experiences. MessageBird's out-of-the-box functionality and omnichannel expertise tips the scales for knowledge workers and helps them be productive right away, with tools to build great marketing campaigns, customer service experiences, or automated business processes.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Bird processes over 5 trillion+ messages, calls, and emails for over 29k+ customers such as; Google, Facebook and Uber across channels like WhatsApp, Email, SMS, and many more. Founded in 2011, we have grown to a powerhouse team of 800+ employees who represent more than 55 nationalities, and we’re proud to be a “Remote Friendly” company.

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