Chatbots are future lifestyle managers
Banks and financial services institutions are increasingly adopting chatbots to engage customers:
Chatbots, once a niche concept, are now turning into a necessity for mainstream businesses. Enterprises, especially in the financial services domain, have been experimenting with them, using them especially in customer interactions. More refinements are being added to their functionalities and newer versions are emerging. YES Bank, for example, has launched YES ROBOT, an AI-enabled personal banking assistant for customers, available on the bank’s website and Facebook messenger. The bot has many disruptive, industry first features like customers can send money, check balance, recharge their phones, pay bills, check recent transactions and do a host of other banking transactions. It uses GPS to offer real time assistance in locating the nearest branch/ATM. Users can check eligibility and apply for a commercial loan product with real time assignment of a relationship manager for further loan processing. The facility can be used by customers to apply for some 65 products of the bank in real time.
YES ROBOT is the second chatbot of the bank. It had earlier launched a unique, award-winning chatbot - YES TAG which enabled users to send money, check balance, order cheque book and do other priority transactions from 5 social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, WeChat and Skype.
The bank has also in partnership with bot platform Gupshup, launched YES mPower, a chatbot for loan products. Currently active on Facebook Messenger, YES mPOWER helps customers get information about loan products of the bank and instantly get a loan eligibility. According to Ritesh Pai, chief digital officer at YES Bank, YES mPower is an interactive, easy to use chatbot that gives an instant loan offering to customers from anywhere, anytime.
Deepak Sharma, chief digital officer at Kotak Mahindra Bank, says the bank is in the testing phase of chatbot technology. “We will be launching our chatbots in the coming months. In the testing phase, we found that the customers’ chat text was getting broken. So, we are planning to add voice and text options to solve customer problems accurately,” says he.
LEVERAGING & ADOPTION
Bajaj Allianz General Insurance gives extreme importance to its customers and strives to enhance customer experience. The company has leveraged chatbot technology to offer some unique experiences to its customers. Sourabh Chatterjee, head & president – Digital & Technology at the company says: “We believe it is vital for us to provide the best in class services and this is the area where we can leverage technology to make it better. Through our chatbot BOING we have empowered our customers with self-service capabilities like getting their policy documents, registering motor and extended warranty claims, changing certain details of their policy and renewing motor policies as of now.”
Mehmood Mansoori, member of Executive Management & group head, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company reveals the objectives behind the adoption of the chatbot technology in the company: “The objective of building the agent bot was to support call center agents by providing them with relevant and accurate information during the call and reducing average handle time by providing instant and accurate responses and eliminating discretionary actions and manual errors.”
IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE
After launching BOING, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance has experienced a marked reduction in the average handling time of the customers, and the number of customers who have accepted this form of interaction has also grown by 6X in a short span. The company will see the sales and partner version of the bot very soon and is confident that it will make the process of research, selection and ultimately purchase, easy for the customers.
BOING utilizes a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine with artificial intelligence and learning capabilities. The investment is minimal and the company had worked with a start-up to develop the chatbot.
Says Chatterjee: “It has really made a huge difference in terms of our engagement with the customer and the customer’s ease of reaching to the company. BOING is different in the services that it offers. Most of our services on the chatbot are extremely simple to use, our entire focus is on self-service and can be realized in just
a couple of steps. It also differs in the way it seamlessly transfers control to a human agent if it is unable to resolve or help the customers.”
Mansoori feels the use of agent chatbot helps in complex actions such as premium calculation and refund calculation as well. “We are working with the customer experience management team to study additional call center scenarios to automate, address queries, product FAQs, premium calculation, sales and agents,” he says.
With smartphones and digital interfaces becoming very common, more number of customers prefer typing and chatting and getting quick responses, instead of calling customer care call centres. Chatterjee explains the advantages of using BOING: “We have seen a considerable re-use of BOING. Since the very nature of our services is non-repeating, the repeat usage will generally occur only if the customer wishes to avail a different service each time. For example, a customer who has registered a motor claim will not really log on frequently to register claim again unless it is really the case. They may log on to enquire about the status of his claim or perhaps to enquire for preferred workshops around him. We have built in a feedback mechanism at the end of the chat, so far we have received a positive feedback from our customers.”
The company has successfully diverted the call volume to the bot resulting in significant improvement in service levels. Chatterjee says on an average the company receives around 2000 queries a day on BOING. It is not selling any products on this platform but has only enabled customers to do self-service for motor, health, extended warranty, etc. “All the services provided on BOING are getting equally good responses. Most of the queries that we receive on the platform are on renewals, locators, claim registration, etc,” says he.
Some of the most frequently asked queries on YES ROBOT are related to linking Aadhar Card to bank accounts, changing debit card PIN, and applying for various YES Bank products. Customers check their account balance, send money and query the location of YES Bank ATMs/ branches quite often on the bot. Says Pai: “The adoption rate and feedback from early adopters of all the 3 chatbots have been very encouraging. YES ROBOT has already addressed over 2,00,000 customer queries without manual intervention within 3 months of launch. This has helped the bank enhance its customer service by reducing the time-of-first-response to just a few seconds.”
Pai also says over 4,000+ leads have been generated through YES ROBOT by customers. Over half a million interactions have happened between YES ROBOT and users since launch. Offering all transactions through Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), YES ROBOT boasts of the 24x7 customer service as well as transactions support to nonresident customers. YES mPower, he says, is presently being used by 61% of all branch staff on an average. This adoption number is projected to go up to 80% in the next 3 months’ time. Presently, on this platform on an average 20,000+ loan transactions/ enquiries happen in a month. This number is projected to go up to 50,000 transactions per month in next 3 months’ time.
YES Bank is planning to deliver more on-demand services across channels to expedite customer on-boarding, resolve customer queries with more accuracy and leverage AI to study user behaviour, pre-empt periodic activities like mobile recharge and bill payments.
FUTURE LIFESTYLE MANAGERS
Chatbots would be the game changers in the BFSI industry and it provides major competitive advantage to banks and financial service institutions based on speed of learning and pace of implementation. Banker-at-beck-and call bots are poised to be personal banking assistants, onepoint contact for all conversations and transactions with banks. Since most chatbots are powered by AI, and are learning from their conversations with customers, they will turn more smart, personal and human.
Bots are adept at conversing with the customer by processing natural language powered with cognitive messaging abilities and acts as a personal advisor who is available to answer queries of customers 24x7. There is immense potential for usage of chatbots in the payments front as well as in grievance redressal.
As digital payments become ubiquitous and further fast and subtle, chatbots will not just be banking partners but also be integrated such that they act as lifestyle managers,” says Pai.
Chatterjee too is enthusiastic: “We have learnt a lot from studying customer interactions and previous conversations on BOING. Digital infrastructure and rise in mobile connectivity in the country has offered an immense opportunity to provide services to the customers and address their queries in real-time. Customers are now expecting instant services and immediate resolution of their queries. All these lessons are good for the growth of capabilities of chatbots. Customer service will always be the focus area for BOING. Additionally, we are focusing on ‘Product Discovery’ in a self-service format.”
Chatbots can perform several complex actions without any manual intervention