Nationwide Building Society is to launch a virtual assistant as a first line of support for first-time home buyers, responding to preliminary inquiries.
The new bot, dubbed Arti, will apply learnings from IBM's Watson Assistant to respond to online queries from home buyers. As the conversation progresses, Arti will escalate questions to a human agent as needed.
James Smith, director of Nationwide Digital, says: “The rate of technological development is staggering, and for the consumer can be overwhelming, leading to some segments of the population missing out on opportunities. The key for any organisation exploring these capabilities is to be entirely customer-led and ensure that the technology is solving a real need. Our use of Watson is doing that, with our initial aim to de-mystify the house buying process for first-time buyers. I see great value in expanding this type of service, with many opportunities to use AI technology to meet our customers’ needs and enrich their lives.”
Nationwide's engagement with Watson was first revealed by IBM at its Think 2019 jamboree in San Francisco.
"Enterprise-grade AI virtual assistants are more than just chatbots," says Beth Smith, general manager, IBM Watson. "A true enterprise assistant understands when to search from a knowledge base, when to ask for clarity and when to direct users to a human - helping to resolve more requests while reducing misunderstandings and alleviating frustration for both employees and customers."
Watson is able to learn on the job, refining its answers to respond to more complex queries. Smith points to Bradesco, the second largest bank in Brazil, which first deployed the Watson-enabled Bradesco Inteligencia Artificial (BIA) assistant in 2016, and which recently hit the mark of 87 million interactions with the bank's employees and clients.
Using Watson, BIA takes about three seconds to answer questions and perform searches such as balance and withdrawal queries, transfers, account payments, loans, investments and more, says Smith.
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