The Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) and SMBC Nikko Securities, together with NTT Communications, say they have jointly developed an AI chatbot with support from Accenture Japan to support SMBC Nikko Securities’ Line-based inquiry service
The AI chatbot – which is scheduled to go live May 25 in SMBC Nikko Securities’ contact center – is capable of understanding customer input on Line Talk to a high degree of precision and then automatically and rapidly providing the most appropriate response, the companies said in a release.
SMBC Nikko Securities’ contact center began offering an operator-staffed chat service on its website in May 2016, and on OTT messenging service Line in September 2016. SMBC Nikko Securities said the introduction of the AI chatbot will allow for faster responses to customer inquiries. At some future point, the chatbot will become accessible during nighttime hours and holidays, time frames when the chat service has heretofore been unavailable.
Once launched, the AI chatbot will provide guidance on ways to open accounts as well as on initial public offerings (IPOs), NISA, My Number, and Direct Course. The scope of the service will be steadily expanded to include such things as share price inquiries and investment trust selection.
This service utilizes an NTT Com AI engine called Cotoha that NTT Com says can engage in “human-like dialogue.” Cotoha excels at understanding customer inquiries and providing natural responses by such means as automatically asking questions about missing information. Cotoha also studies the responses of operators to automatically upgrade its own response capabilities, and comes equipped with an escalation function that redirects customers to an operator for answers to questions that the chatbot could not resolve.
Cotoha consists of Amelia, a cognitive agent from US-based IPsoft, and Corevo, an AI-related technology developed by NTT Group that includes advanced Japanese-language processing technology from NTT Media Intelligence Laboratories. This service will be the first ever to use Cotoha.
SMBC Nikko Securities believes that utilizing AI for some of its operator operations at the contact center will cut down on overtime and otherwise reform work styles to help employees achieve a good work-life balance. Efforts will be made to further improve quality and enhance the operator training system so that customers can easily make inquiries at any time.
Accenture provided advice on the technologies to be adopted for the service, and offered support in drafting the project plan and managing progress during its implementation. It will offer additional support once the service gets underway.
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