Australian digital-only bank UBank has unveiled RoboChat, a virtual assistant powered by IBM Watson to help potential home buyers and refinancers complete their online home loan applications.
RoboChat will be available on the home loan section of UBank’s website and will be available to guide customers through the application form. By providing real-time input on questions like “what term do you offer on home loans?” and “do you offer redraws and how do they work?” RoboChat aims to help reduce the time needed for customers to complete the form by offering on-the-spot help.
RoboChat uses IBM Watson Conversation API and will use natural language to respond to customers on 40 core home loan topics along with hundreds of associated questions. RoboChat has been trained on data collected from customer questions submitted via UBank’s LiveChat experience, and has been tested by dozens of users and iteratively trained. Thousands of questions and responses have now been plugged into RoboChat and analyzed with IBM Watson, ensuring customer’s queries are responded to in an efficient manner.
IBM said RoboChat is still in training and will continue to learn as more customers engage with it, becoming smarter and more user-friendly over time. IBM also said that to ensure the home loan process is as enjoyable as possible, RoboChat has even been built with a sense of humour, offering a number of tongue-in-cheek responses, such as:
Q: How much does a hipster weigh?
A: An Instagram.
“Our goal is to deliver simpler, better, smarter banking to our customers and RoboChat will help deliver on this by streamlining the application form,” said Lee Hatton, CEO of UBank. “If you’ve gathered all of your paperwork, the form can be completed in as little time as it takes you to have your breakfast. And, securing one of the most competitive rates in the market could help a customer save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a loan.”
Whilst this new form of technology will provide a streamlined approach to the home loan application, it won’t affect the size of the local UBank Customer Service team, Hatton said.
“UBank will still have experienced staff on hand to chat on the phone, via email and our live online chat offering, RoboChat will provide an added option for those needing quick online responses or those that are close to finalizing the form,” she said.
“From deepening the customer experience, to increased productivity for employees, virtual assistants are being adopted across industries and becoming more advanced in natural conversation and emotional intelligence, with the help of cognitive technology,” said Brock Douglas, VP of Watson at IBM Asia Pacific. “UBank’s work with IBM Watson is a powerful example of how organizations are leveraging cognitive virtual assistants that have the ability to engage in a conversation, ask questions, learn and respond in context – as opposed to providing stock responses.”