Chat­bots are fu­ture lifestyle man­agers

Banks and fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­sti­tu­tions are in­creas­ingly adopt­ing chat­bots to en­gage cus­tomers:

Banking Frontiers - - Self-service Mode - Ravi@glo­cal­in­fo­

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.


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.”


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.


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.”

Sourabh Chat­ter­jee

Mehmood Man­soori

Ritesh Pai

Chat­bots can per­form sev­eral com­plex ac­tions with­out any man­ual in­ter­ven­tion

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