Barclays' South African subsidiary Absa is to embark on a trial of chatbots, using artificial intelligence to answer simple customer queries posted over popular smart messaging apps.
The bank does not identify the messaging apps it will be using for the trial, but says that it wants to connect with customers through their conversational channels of choice rather than by traditional, and more limited options such as SMS or email.
Yasaman Hadjibashi, chief data officer at Barclays Africa, explains: “At Absa, we are constantly seeking new ways to be more relevant to our customers. By aligning our user-centric and big data expertise we are able to connect with our customers through channels that they are actively using.”
Jan Moganwa, chief executive of personal & business customer solutions, says the chatbots will be equipped to answer simple customer questions quickly, freeing up staff to focus on more complex customer issues that require deeper human insight.
“Connecting with our customers is core to our business," he says. "Introducing chatbots at Absa provides greater ability to have relevant conversations with our customers, and provide immediate response."
The use of two-way messaging is expected to create a feedback loop to help the bank better understand the most pressing issues for improving customer service.
Anna Nascimento, head of commercial engagement, personal bank at Barclays Africa, says: “Using artificial intelligence, the bank can learn what individual customers regularly ask for, in real-time, and make these options easier to find for the customer."