Bot-ter Customer Service

Maria Schuld
Group Executive – Financial Services Group
Posted on April 11, 2017

How could bots improve your customer service?

Resolving customer service issues quickly, consistently and efficiently is the goal of consumers and businesses alike. Rather than make consumers wait on hold or send them on a wild goose chase through your system, which only frustrates them and hurt your brand, or tie up your service reps with calls that don’t add value, bot services may be the answer.

Bots Gaining Customer Acceptance

Bots are getting smarter, and they can help mitigate the problems that consumers associate with customer service. For example, bots responding to email questions and complaints can now decipher if the email writer is angry (although they have yet to conquer the nuances of sarcasm).

Chatbots are coming of age and companies are testing variations to better serve customers – especially text-oriented millennials, many of whom prefer text over human interaction. According to a recent study from Vibes, more the 60 percent of consumers say they would feel comfortable talking with a chatbot. Numerous financial institutions around the globe currently use or soon plan to use front-end bots to answer simple questions. For example:

  • India’s mobile-only Digibank is staffed by chatbots that answer thousands of text-based questions. Questions posed by text – as opposed to voice – enable bots to accomplish higher-level tasks, because the input is more consistent.
  • USAA and Ally Bank have virtual assistants on their mobile apps.
  • American Express and Bank of America plan to use chatbots on Facebook Messenger.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada is piloting smart bots that provide account balances, transaction histories and answer some questions.
  • China Merchant Bank’s front-end bot handles up to two million customer conversations daily, most relating to card balances and payments.

Bots on the Back End

AI-assisted agents also work in parallel with humans to shorten response time and increase precision. KLM uses DigitalGenius which interprets conversations from different inquiry platforms and suggests responses to a human agent. The AI adapts the response to the inquiry platform: email, Twitter, Messenger, etc. The human agent then edits the preformed answer, which significantly reduces response time. Over time, the AI learns from human agents’ edits and improves its automated responses.

Bots in BPO

Pressure on companies providing business process outsourcing (BPO) to resolve problems quickly continues to mount. As a result, the usage of bots in BPO to increase efficiency is rapidly gaining traction. The inclusion of Robot Process Automation (RPA) in banking BPO contracts rose 63 percent between 2011 and 2014, according to the Everest Group.

A typical dispute and chargeback case requires tapping multiple sources for data – the transaction to determine if it’s a fraudulent transaction, the merchant and the card issuer – and then pulling the information together. Bots can accomplish these types of tasks far faster than a human can.

In the past, studies on customer service often highlighted that humans prefer human interactions. However, today’s consumers often value fast resolution over the human touch. New customer satisfaction studies actually show that bots score better than humans at resolving the same low-level issue.

For simple tasks, bots offer multiple advantages:

  • Lower cost
  • Faster operation
  • More precise responses
  • More time for humans to focus on higher-level tasks that require judgment calls

Bots represent an important tool in providing good customer service. They can represent a win for customers in terms of time and accuracy and a win for companies in terms of cost and customer satisfaction.


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Maria Schuld
Group Executive – Financial Services Group

With over 20 years of experience in the financial and payments industry, Maria is the Group Executive for debit, credit, fraud operations and business management. Previously, she was a senior management team member for Metavante before its 2009 acquisition by FIS. Other areas of expertise include implementation management, account management, and professional services management.