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Increased customer satisfaction, improved quality in bank processes, cost reductions and promotion of banks’ perception as innovation leaders: that sounds like a winner – and all goals that can be achieved via advanced ‘human’ artificial intelligence.

Or bots for short.

There has been a lot of talk about the potential offered by bots -but we are now starting to see hard evidence.

Take Alior for example. It was the deserved winner of the award for ‘Best Customer Facing Technology’ at the annual RBI global awards in May for its Dronn project.

The Dronn is an artificial intelligence system deployed in Alior Bank to support remote customer service, which use an automatic voice recognition (ASR), semantic analysis, speech synthesis (Text to Speech – TTS), natural language processing (NLP) and biometrical voice authentication. The Dronn system was implemented for debt collection area and in marketing surveys

Initial results: 

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  • a 31% increased efficiency for the number of calls – Dronn Agent call to 99.5% of deptors versus 68.9% of debtors called by a Contact Center Agents;
  • the cost of servicing individual case fell by 85% compared to the previous process;
  • amounts collected during the campaigns increased by 25%.

Alior was also a deserved winner of the Big Data, Analytics and AI award at the Efma and Accenture 2016 Global Banking Awards in October.

Meantime,Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is launching Luvo an online "chatbot" that will answer customers' questions online and help direct them to the right places.

The launch follows a successful trial of the tool with 1,200 RBS staff handling small business inquiries, such as lost PINs.

The chatbot is built using IBM's Watson tool with future plans including more complex areas such as providing increased personalisation and predictive analytics to detect possible issues before they arise to make a recommended course of action.

Meantime, Sweden’s SEB is rolling out a new artificial intelligence agent named Amelia. Built with semantic understanding, Amelia interacts with customers through natural language and it is claimed, even senses customers’ emotions.

ABN AMRO has also got in on the act with a bot that offers insight into customers’ income and expenses while the Money 20/20 show in October featured the debut of Bank of America’s Erica.

Erica will in time become a virtual system that will work across a number of Voice First platforms including Siri, Cortana and Watson.

UK start-up Atom Bank is also integrating AI into its mobile app, which it said will provide near-human customer care.

The machine learning technology from WDS – part of Xerox – uses analytics to capture the context of each customer inquiry and respond appropriately.

So the timing is perfect for the December debate at The Digital Banking Club to discuss Are Bots ready to be Bankers?

The attractions for banks to invest in bots is obvious but what is likely to be the customer reaction? Might this not appear to be another bank cost-cutting initiative?

Woe betide any bank that launches a bot offering that has a hit and miss success rate-the damage to the value of their brand if digital assistants offer dud advice is obvious.

But in areas such as helping the visually impaired, cognitive services have huge potential and can only help in boosting digital inclusion.

Bots and AI may not be as revolutionary as some suggest but can play a part in making banking more efficient and become a part of a bank’s larger portfolio of digital touchpoints.