Digital savvy clients may soon prefer to interact more with chatbots.
When HSBC launched its chatbot Amy to answer general enquiries from its commercial banking customers in January last year, it did not take long for the bank to realise that its pioneering initiative was a home run - and for other banks to follow suit. By December 2017, or just a year after its debut, Amy was able to answer 97,000 questions with a 90% success rate and hold 38,000 customer conversations. HSBC said that Amy’s popularity, as shown in the volume of interactions, revealed a customer preference to interact with an easy-to-use chatbot.
A year after Amy launched, Hang Seng Bank debuted its own chatbots, a pair named HARO and DORI. HARO covers the mortgage, personal loan, credit card, and medical insurance and travel insurance services. It is designed to analyse customer enquiries, say on policy coverage of travel insurance, and subsequently provide relevant product and service information.
Meanwhile, DORI makes recommendations on offers provided by Hang Seng Bank’s merchant partners, from dining, beauty service and cosmetics, to entertainment. Some of limited-time-and-quantity offers were exclusively sent to DORI users when paying with Hang Seng credit cards, and the business result has been “encouraging” with most offers being fully redeemed quickly, according to Margaret Kwan, executive director and head of retail banking and wealth management of Hang Seng Bank.
Kwan reckoned chatbots are still a nascent technology for retail banking, but expects the new generation of digital savvy banking clients to shift to the chatbot as their preferred mode of interaction. She explained that chatbots appeal to the new customer profile: Uses mobile frequently, is comfortable with self-assistance, prefers texting to calls, demands service at their fingertips, and expects real-time feedback for their enquiry.
“Compared with the traditional way of displaying banks’ products and offers via static webpage, chatbots like HARO and DORI will become more popular, as they offer a more interactive way to provide customers with relevant information through smartphone devices,” said Kwan.
Standard Chartered also plans to roll out a chatbot in the second quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approval. The bank expects the general enquiry service would be significantly shifted to chatbot post launch, said Vicky Kong, managing director, head of retail banking at Standard Chartered. “We’re operating in a competitive environment where expectations on client experience and innovation run high,” Kong added.
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