From bank transactions to flight bookings, robots at your service
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