Helm iconHelm icon

What if you could change your customers’ expectations forever?

For two decades, we’ve designed intelligent products and services that have helped Africa’s biggest brands turn complex customer realities into simple experiences they can’t live without. Let’s help you do the same.
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Africa’s CX innovation experts.

Two decades of creating intelligent customer experience solutions.
Previously known as Praekelt Consulting, Helm has spent the last twenty years creating best-across-class intelligent products and services that have solved complex customer experience challenges for the likes of Absa, MTN, DStv, Dr. Oetker and Makro.

Half a billion users.
And counting.

500 million users across markets, channels, and languages.
Over the years we’ve helped our clients connect, converse with and convert over 500 million users across multiple markets, channels and languages. Our track record speaks for itself. Let’s show you what we do, how we do it, and who we’ve done it for.
AI-powered automation

Helm Engine

Bots are a big deal these days, and it’s easy to see why – in cases like Siri, Alexa, and DStv Self-Service, people are literally having conversations with robots. But Helm Engine is about much more than that – it’s about voice, vision, speech-to-text, machine learning, and all the magical things that make automation possible.
Helm Engine uses artificial intelligence and intelligent automation to build solutions that can handle multiple tasks without the need for human intervention. Whether it’s sales transactions, service queries, or even improving efficiency on physical production lines, we combine tools, tech and expertise to meet business needs of any size.
What we offer
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Multimodal – Machine Learning using text, voice and visual inputs
Multilingual – all 11 SA languages and literally anything else
Multichannel – WhatsApp, Messenger and more
Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Processing (NLP)
Machine Learning, Machine Vision and Machine Translation
Speech Processing
Speech-to-Text / Text-to-Speech
What we offer
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Designing digital experiences

Experience Design

We design holistic digital experiences using an evidence-driven approach that is centred around the human being on the other side of the screen. We challenge the status quo and redesign the current customer experience into something that’s relevant, engaging and as simple as possible.
We are designers and writers and user experience experts, but more than that we are strategic minds, empathetic thinkers and makers. We believe in the power of co-creation and deliver measured success and shared value for both our clients and their customers.
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What we offer
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Matching business goals and customer needs
Researching to understand challenges and barriers
Envisioning and developing opportunities
Co-creating with stakeholders and customers
Designing feasible, viable and desirable experiences
Testing, learning, optimising and iterating
What we offer
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Bespoke software solutions

Product Engineering

Behind our product, Helm Engine, we have engineers of all different shapes, sizes, skillsets and headsets – from developers to site reliability engineers to machine learning experts – all of whom are ready to design, develop and deploy bespoke solutions for your business.
Whether your business needs a chatbot or a highly tailored solution for a different platform, our Product Engineers thrive on designing strong, secure and scalable software products that not only serve your customers’ needs, but have the power to innovate on industry standards and deliver a return on investment.
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What we offer
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Bespoke Engineering Solutions
Front and Back-end Development
Reporting and Analytics
Site Reliability Engineering
API Integration
Helm Engine
What we offer
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DStv

A new channel for DStv

Helm Engine | Product Engineering | Experience Design
DStv’s channels are cool and all, but can they remind you to pay your account? Didn’t think so. So we built an intelligent WhatsApp assistant that makes self- service simple, centralised and scalable. It also makes ticket queues a thing of the past.
7.8M
Unique users
119M
Messages processed
Companies like DStv usually give their customers self-service options online or via USSD. But even those require some form of standing up, logging in or worse – waiting. So DStv briefed us to take their self-service offering to the next level – WhatsApp. Using our AI-powered conversational platform Helm Engine, we built an Intelligent Assistant that can understand and respond to users on the world’s most widely-used messaging app.
The vision and strategy were based on the seven most common customer queries. DStv Self-Service can now upgrade and pay accounts, check balances, manage holiday viewing, rent BoxOffice movies and check the TV guide. Using DStv’s API as a single source of truth, Helm Engine is a hub of centralised intelligence. With all that data waiting to be used, the key is to understand what the user is saying and respond in seconds.
Dr. Oetker

Machine Learning and the perfect Margherita 

Helm Engine | Product Engineering
How can machine learning make the perfect pre-made pizza, we hear you ask? Using hi-res cameras, computer vision, and AI, we’ve helped global giants Dr. Oetker identify overtopped, uneven or substandard pizzas, without a single human being in sight.
400 GB
Data captured by the cameras
50 K
Pizzas passed in a single day
4
Cameras per production line
We added four high-resolution cameras to the Dr. Oetker production line, capturing images of each pizza as it gets being baked, sauced, topped, packaged and frozen. The images are processed by Helm Engine’s Machine Learning service and then sent to the User Interface (UI), where the operational team can easily track data on overtopped, undertopped and uneven pizzas, as well as production line efficiency.
By eliminating human objectivity and error through AI-powered quality control, Dr. Oetker is able to improve standards, reduce waste and increase productivity. Best of all, Helm Engine learns more with every pizza that passes on the production line, meaning that the product only gets better over time. After perfecting the Dr. Oetker South Africa cheese station, we’re proud to be rolling this project out globally – starting in Poland.
MTN

A telco-changing experience

Experience Design
MTN asked us to explore and reimagine their end- to-end customer experience across both physical and digital touch points. The goal was to turn it into a digitally-led, world-class experience for customers and agents alike. Challenge accepted.
4 350
User surveys gathered
150
Interviews conducted
9
User journeys developed
MTN have a lot of employees and even more customers, so it’s no surprise that they interact with their users in many different places. But the problem was that the experience was not always aligned. As customer experience experts, we know that for service to be exceptional, it needs to be consistent. With that goal at the end of the line, we set out on a journey to create a bold new digital world for one of the country’s most iconic brands.
We turned 3,280 hours of research, user persona interviews and current-state journeys into something much more valuable – a vision, a future state, a blueprint for a bold, new digital world for MTN. With technology ousting many of the competitive advantages enjoyed by telcos, it all becomes about customer experience. And if our blueprint makes the MTN customer experience a brighter shade of yellow, we’ve done our job.
Absa

The bot that ticks two boxes

Helm Engine | Product Engineering | Experience Design
We partnered with Absa Life to build an intelligent agent on WhatsApp that helps both their customers and their employees. With automated responses and FAQs 24/7, call centre agents have been freed up to support customers who need the human touch.
“There are no shortcuts in the digital era and as a bank embracing innovation, we turned to Helm, a company with a proven technology and innovation track record to partner with us on this journey.”
Dushen Naidoo
Absa Managing Executive for Insurance
Call centre agents are busy people who work under immense pressure. Every day they deal with hundreds of queries that could be resolved without an agent. So Absa Life asked us to build a WhatsApp chatbot that could answer policyholder FAQs, freeing up agents to deal with more involved queries. With a global pandemic keeping us all locked down, this project was a masterclass in co-creation with one of our most collaborative clients.
With sensitive information, a high percentage of second-language English speakers, and users who are often emotionally vulnerable, it was important for the service to be extremely secure, simple to use, understandable, available 24/7 and highly responsive, with as little legalese and jargon as possible. This solution is scalable, affordable and easily accessible to Absa Life customers on WhatsApp.
New partnerships

Change the Game

Maybe you want to make the leap to your first million customers, or the next million. Perhaps you want to reimagine your entire customer experience, or build a chatbot that frees up your call centre agents for more critical work. Whatever your problem, we’ll find a solution.
Careers

Get Onboard

For twenty years, we’ve worked with the brightest strategic, technical and creative talent out there. Whether you’re a software engineer or a strategist, a designer or a data scientist, or if you think you have some magic to throw into the mix, get in touch to get onboard.
Book a Demo

Try it Out

We love showing off from time to time. Let’s get together and take you through what our AI-powered conversational platform can do for your business. All we need is thirty minutes to blow your mind. Your place or ours?

Bot Tester

Give Helm Engine a go in real time