The UK's Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) has introduced a virtual assistant to its Web site to answer online queries from mortgage customers.
Web site visitors are able to ask the virtual assistant - which is known as Helen - questions in natural language, instead of having to choose the right combination of key words to retrieve the correct answer from the search engine.
YBS says the virtual assistant creates an emotional and entertaining experience, increasing customer loyalty and Web site "stickiness", and initial results show that a significant number of people enjoy having a "chat" with her.
Typically Helen is asked about best rates and types of mortgages on offer.
Since Helen was introduced, the virtual assistant has had over 3000 users and answered over 7000 questions.