NatWest is in advance testing of a lifelike human avatar trained to answer customer queries across its mobile and online channels.
The bank has for the past year deployed a text-based chat bot called ‘Cora’ which customers can use on the bank’s online help pages. It can answer 200 basic banking queries and now has 100,000 conversations a month.
The new Cora prototype takes the robotic experience a stage further, using technology from New Zealand's Soul Machines that can detect human emotion and react verbally as well as physically, through facial expressions.
Like humans, Cora is trained when dealing with new subject matter and when she makes mistakes she learns, so that over time the interactions become more personable and accurate.
Kevin Hanley, director of innovation at NatWest says the idea is to inject some personality and character into the bot to make it more appealing to customers who usually avoid online chat agents.
"We’re really excited about this technology because we think it could create another way for our customers to bank with us on top of the usual services we offer and be used to help answer questions round the clock, whilst cutting queuing times for simple questions," he says. "The technology has real potential for the future and we’re also looking at how we can use it to help train our staff on certain subject matters.”