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Australia’s NAB taps AI to create brand voice

Using Amazon’s artificial intelligence smarts, National Australia Bank has developed a unique brand voice that will greet customers who dial up its contact centre

Customers of National Australia Bank (NAB) will soon be greeted by a voice that was developed using Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) smarts when they dial up the bank’s contact centre.

The service – part of the Amazon Polly cloud offering that turns text into lifelike speech – taps the expertise of Amazon’s research scientists and linguists to build an exclusive neural text-to-speech voice that represents a brand’s persona.

In NAB’s case, Amazon experts worked with the bank to create a unique brand voice using the same deep learning technology that powers the voice of Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. Featuring Australian English, the brand voice was developed as part of NAB’s broader migration to the Amazon Connect cloud-based contact centre service.

Laurent De Segur, NAB’s general manager of digital and assisted channels, said the voice “felt both uniquely NAB and consistent with our position and what our customers expect when they call us”.

He added: “We are thrilled to be a global leader using this voice-first digital innovation – and even more excited to see how our customers interact with the voice and experience as we gradually roll this out.”

Amazon said its Polly service uses a deep learning model that enables voices to acquire intonation patterns from natural speech data and reproduces utterances in a similar style or tone. This enables businesses to create custom voices with a persona or speaking style that they want to project to customers.

Phillip Zammit, AWS’s head of cognitive customer experience in Asia-Pacific, said: “Emerging technology like neural text-to-speech leverages machine learning tools to turn customer interactions such as contact centre calls or virtual assistants into engaging and human-like experiences designed to reflect a brand’s persona.

“With KPMG’s latest annual experience excellence report revealing that Australians rank personalisation as a key driver of brand advocacy, we are encouraging customers to consider how they can invest in this next-generation technology to create memorable customer connections.”

In an interview with Computer Weekly at AWS Re:invent 2019 in Las Vegas, Paul Migliorini, managing director of AWS in Australia and New Zealand, said Amazon Connect has been a “huge success” in the two countries in the past two years.

“We’ve seen hundreds of customers deploy Amazon Connect, with most of them seeing a need to build core competencies around customer experience,” he said. “By moving their traditional systems of engagement into software and away from legacy infrastructure, they gained a lot more flexibility in configuring the experience for customers while gaining insights about their customers.”

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