From bank trans­ac­tions to flight book­ings, ro­bots at your ser­vice

Singapore Business Review - - CONTENTS -

When OCBC branch teller Teng Wan Xian left her role to re­train as a dig­i­tal am­bas­sador that guides cus­tomers how to use the new ATMS and dig­i­tal ser­vice kiosks that have ba­si­cally taken over her pre­vi­ous func­tions, she would even­tu­ally be fol­lowed by other tell­ers. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion has led some firms to cut head­count but Teng rep­re­sents the other side of the coin: Firms keep­ing staff for other value-added work that hu­mans can still do bet­ter than ma­chines and chat­bots. OCBC Bank, for ex­am­ple, is up­skilling half of the tell­ers in its 35 branches to take on am­bas­sador and other ad­vi­sory roles over the next two years.

The move to re­duce bank tell­ers comes amidst fall­ing foot traf­fic in bank branches as OCBC rolled out dig­i­tal trans­ac­tion chan­nels, as well as a new fleet of ATMS and dig­i­tal ser­vice kiosks that can per­form the trans­ac­tions pre­vi­ously han­dled by bank tell­ers. Teng, who has been with the bank for seven years, said that the new ATMS and dig­i­tal ser­vice kiosks have re­duced the wait­ing time for cus­tomers at the branch. “I feel the new ma­chines are like a ‘new gen­er­a­tion’ of tell­ers, pro­cess­ing ev­ery­thing very quickly,” she said.

OCBC ‘s bank teller head­count has been re­duced by 15% in the past five years, but it was quick to as­sure that none of the bank tell­ers in the planned re­train­ing ini­tia­tive will lose their job. The staff will be taught how to per­form “higher val­ued-added tasks that re­quire de­ci­sion-mak­ing or phys­i­cal ver­i­fi­ca­tion” in­stead of the repet­i­tive counter tasks like pro­cess­ing cash trans­ac­tions which cur­rently ac­count for nearly 90% of trans­ac­tions per­formed at branch teller coun­ters.

“With the ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy, we have re­trained staff for higher-value job func­tions that will trans­form our busi­ness and al­low a more ef­fi­cient work­force to de­liver op­ti­mum re­sults,” said Den­nis Tan, head of con­sumer fi­nan­cial ser­vices Sin­ga­pore at OCBC. “Cus­tomers must know that our staff can com­pe­tently help them with dig­i­tal age pro­cesses and tools.”

The dig­i­tal shift can also be seen in Sin­ga­pore’s air­lines in­dus­try, where Scoot has soft-launched a trans­ac­tional chat­bot called M.A.R.V.I.E. on its Face­book page via Face­book Mes­sen­ger on July 2. A few weeks since its launch, M.A.R.V.I.E. has man­aged to re­solve about 37.5% of all queries, and the air­lines ex­pects more cus­tomers to use the chat­bot for queries in English, search for flights and make flight book­ings.

“We do not have a tar­get for now for the num­ber of queries as a chat­bot with trans­ac­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties is still new to the mar­ket and M.A.R.V.I.E. is still an

‘in­tern’ learn­ing the ropes, so we will need to con­tinue train­ing him… over time his res­o­lu­tion rate will im­prove,” said Vinod Can­nan, Chief Com­mer­cial Of­fi­cer at

Scoot. “How­ever, our call cen­tre and ground cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives per­form an ex­ten­sive ar­ray of func­tions and we don’t see the chat­bot re­plac­ing them.”

Scoot’s hy­brid ap­proach en­tails re­tain­ing cus­tomer ser­vice staff whilst ex­pand­ing M.A.R.V.I.E.’S ca­pa­bil­i­ties to take up a greater share of query res­o­lu­tion and book­ing op­er­a­tions. In the fu­ture, af­ter un­der­go­ing a con­tin­u­ing learn­ing process, the chat­bot is ex­pected to even­tu­ally be able to ac­cept promo codes, as­sist cus­tomers to man­age and make changes to book­ings, ac­cept ad­di­tional pay­ment modes aside from the cur­rent credit card op­tion. The air­line also in­tends to of­fer M.A.R.V.I.E. in more lan­guages and on more plat­forms, in­clud­ing Scoot’s web­site.

OCBC launched a new fleet of ATMS

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