If you have a question to ask your bank, then it may soon be answered by ‘virtual’ bank staff in the form of a ‘chatbot’ instead of a real person.
Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest are scheduled to start rolling out the introduction of their virtual customer service technology in December starting with around 10% of RBS customers.
IBM Watson Technology
The A.I. technology for the new chatbots comes from IBM Watson. The web-based virtual agent chatbot known as Luvo has the ability to learn from its interactions with humans and therefore become better at its job over time. Luvo was tested with the help of 1,200 RBS and NatWest staff.
The Rise of Chatbots
Luvo is one of a growing number of advanced computer programs used online by companies to save time, reduce the reliance on the human workforce, replace individual apps and to help with many different aspects of customer service, managing and improving customer experiences.
Chatbot programs use artificial intelligence technology to mimic human conversation. Many popular chatbots have been designed to link in with mobile chat and messenger services – e.g. the chat application Kik. Like Kik, Facebook has also opened its own ‘bot store’ for its messenger service.
Without the use of a bot/chatbot, users of an online service would take longer and have to carry out more tasks to find the information they need. For example, instead of going to a weather website and looking up the weather in your area, if a weather channel bot was used you would simply ask it for the forecast and it would tell you.
Complementary and Limited Use
RBS and NatWest are reported as saying that Luvo chatbot will provide a complementary service to the existing customer service agents and is not intended as a replacement for them.
To start off with, Luvo will also be used in a limited way to answer about 10 questions. In this way, it will be able to learn enough from the interactions to allow its scope to be expanded over time.
The banks have also made it clear that customers will be told that they are talking to a bot and not a human and that the bank will be listening carefully to any customer feedback or complaints about the service.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
A.I. technology and chatbots provide businesses with a new way to spread resources further, enhance their customer service, and to save time for customer services staff and customers, particularly when it comes to things like dealing with easily-addressed queries.
The capacity of bots to learn over time means that they are not just a ‘one trick pony’ and can therefore increase their value to the business over time, freeing up more staff time and resources for other things. For customers, bots can provide an adequate service, particularly since many of us are now already used to and trust automated phone and payment systems and mobile bots.