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Royal Bank of Scotland to use AI platform for customer services

RBS is using technology from IBM in a pilot using a software robot to provide direct customer support

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is using IBM Watson technology to provide a robot that will answer customer questions and pass requests on to the right agents.

The Luvo cognitive chat bot, which uses IBM’s cloud-based Watson Conversation service, will be available to around 10% of RBS’s customers in Scotland in December as part of its first customer pilot.

Luvo will answer simple questions in under a second and direct customers to the right human agent if the question is more complex. If the pilot is successful, Luvo will be rolled out to the bank’s NatWest customers.

The bank has already trialled the technology with 1,200 staff, where it handled queries from small businesses customers with problems such as lost corporate cards or forgotten pins.

“With Luvo being able to find answers from a variety of sources in under a second, and with staff being freed up to handle more complex problems, customers are to set benefit from a much simpler and faster process,” said an RBS statement.

RBS said the chat bot might be able to use IBM Watson Alchemy Language in the future, which would help it understand how a customer is feeling and then change its tone and actions accordingly.

“Luvo frees advisors from spending time on simple, easily addressed queries so they can help customers with more complex issues and questions,” said Jane Howard, head of personal banking at NatWest and RBS.

According to Chris Withers, Europe head of financial services for Watson Solutions at IBM, the cognitive system will learn how to complete more complex requests, and using predictive analytics could detect issues before they happen.

Separately, Sweden’s SEB bank became the first bank to use IPsoft’s cognitive technology for customer services after the software robot proved successful in an internal IT service desk project. The implementation will see the robot, known as Amelia, speak Swedish in its first non-English-speaking deployment.

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Amelia has an understanding of the semantics of language and can learn to solve business process queries like a human. It can read 300 pages in 30 seconds and learn through experience by observing the interactions between human agents and customers. 

If Amelia can’t answer a question, it passes the query on to a human, but remains in the conversation to learn how to solve similar issues in future. It understands 20 languages, as well as context, and can apply logic and infer implications.

These developments come despite warnings from Forrester Research about the potential risks associated with using software robots for customer services in banking.

Software is used in sectors such as retail and mobile phones to automate customer services through online chats, but in banking, customers require a level of service that these robots cannot yet guarantee, the IT analyst company said.

The analyst firm said it will be another two or three years before banks should adopt the technology for customer service messaging after a test found that existing chat bots either failed to complete the consumer’s request or provided a clunky, awkward experience in around one in three tests.

Forrester said when it comes to dealing with their money, consumers expect a better and consistent level of service. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

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