Local bank revs up customer service delivery with IBM Watson-powered virtual assistants

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Hong Kong has one of the world’s most competitive banking markets, with 22 banks operating full-service networks across a city with a population of 7.41million. Good service is key to building and retaining market share among Hong Kong’s personal and business banking customers. The ability of AI-powered virtual assistants to engage customers with a faster, simpler and more convenient service experience is therefore an attractive proposition.

Hang Seng Bank, a leading domestic bank renowned for its commitment to high-quality service, has embarked on its personalized service improvement journey by launching virtual assistants to answer enquiries from personal and business banking customers, submitted through its website and mobile banking apps.

The new virtual assistants –  H A R O (Helpful | Attentive | Responsive | Omni) and B E R I (Business | Efficient | Responsive | Interactive) – demonstrate the ease with which Hong Kong companies can use AI to deliver a better customer experience across multiple channels. Collaborating with IBM were Hang Seng’s Retail Banking and Wealth Management divisions to create H A R O and Business Banking and Commercial Banking to create B E R I.

Local context

The project teams adopted design thinking with an agile approach to quickly and efficiently design and develop the virtual assistants, also establishing the roadmap for their continued evolution. The teams invested time to thoroughly understand their target audience behavior and built this knowledge into the foundation of the virtual agents’ scenario-based conversational capabilities.

Powered by IBM Watson Assistant, a cloud-based AI service, H A R O and B E R I can deal with written and spoken customer questions, in a mixture of English and Chinese, with the capability to understand highly idiomatic Cantonese phrases often used in common Hong Kong dialog. The project team trained the virtual assistants to understand common customer queries and mimic customer service representative responses, using the local Hong Kong Cantonese dialect.

Immediate service

With H A R O and B E R I being available 24/7, through its website and mobile apps, Hang Seng Bank has delivered a faster, more efficient, improved service experience to its customers, answering a broad range of questions relating to banking services, product selections and procedures.

Using an embedded analytics capability, over the growing base of customer conversation data plus additional product knowledge added by staff, H A R O and B E R I will continue to gain deeper insight and expand in their natural language understanding and usage, thus enabling the bank to continue improving and strengthening its customers’ experience.

Positive and convenient

Hang Seng Bank was able to meet and address the evolving needs of Hong Kong’s tech-savvy banking service by deploying with speed its AI initiative and, as the virtual assistants continue to learn they will provide the bank’s customers with greater convenience and a more positive experience.

Mimi Poon

Mimi Poon, Director, Banking and Financial Markets, IBM China/Hong Kong Limited

 

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