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Nordea deploys AI to speed up customer service

Nordea is reaping the rewards of its fintech investments through its latest project to use artificial intelligence to support customers

Nordic banking giant Nordea is rolling out artificial intelligence (AI) technology to speed up its customer service processes.

The software, developed by Estonian startup FeelingStream, analyses customer messages and feedback and automatically forwards them to the right recipient.

Trialling initially in Finland, FeelingStream’s software will be used by Nordea to prioritise loan queries and applications. It works by tapping into Nordea’s contact handling platform Genesys through an application programming interface (API) and uses text analytics and natural language processing to categorise messages from customers.

“Messages come into the Genesys platform as per usual, but certain messages that have been tagged as loan messages are then redirected to the FeelingStream tool. It will read, analyse and categorise them into urgent and normal,” said Anna Metsäranta, head of automated remote customer experience at Nordea.

“They are then returned to the Genesys routing system, either to the priority or normal queue [for customer service agents to pick up].”

The bank said the software is able to analyse hundreds of messages per second, dramatically speeding up response times. It has been used full-time by Nordea since the spring following a three-month pilot, which concluded in February 2016.

According to Metsäranta there were no major technical issues during the pilot, instead the challenge was getting anonymised data for FeelingStream to work with. When the data was finally approved, a key change during the pilot was to move from an initial model of categorising messages into five groups to simplifying it down to two.

Now Nordea preparing for a Nordic-wide roll out and mapping out other potential usage cases for the technology. This is done through workshops to identify any problem points and areas where customer services could be improved by the AI tool.

“It has been a learning process where we work together with Feelingstream iteratively to understand the use case and build the relevant model, and that is how I expect the next few use cases to be as well,” said Metsäranta. “Currently it seems the next use cases will be in Finland as well, and other [Nordic] countries will come aboard as soon as possible.”

Read more about fintech in the Nordics

Nordea picked out FeelingStream from its financial technology (fintech) accelerator programme run in Helsinki in 2015-2016 and, following its success, the bank is looking to continue this kind of collaboration.

“We are currently identifying vendors we want to work with,” said Metsäranta. “Of course we want to be keep working with the fintech startup field very closely and we will run more accelerator programmes, but we will work with more mature vendors as well. We are currently putting the building blocks in place and finalising the strategy for automated remote customer service and advice.”

With its focus on AI, Nordea joins a long list of financial services companies looking into this technology. In the UK, NatWest is testing the use of AI to monitor its advisors and to ensure appropriate advice is given.

In 2016, the Royal Bank of Scotland announced it would pilot AI chatbot Luvo, powered by IBM Watson, to handle simple customers queries while Swedish bank SEB deployed customer service robot Amelia to work alongside its IT services desk.

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