The creation of UBank’s customer-facing chatbot RoboChat, launched in beta in May last year, was based on the hypothesis that AI could help make the home loan application process easier for customers, and the easier the application process, the greater the likelihood of customers completing their applications.
Less than a year later, the bank has found a 15 per cent improvement in the number of completed home loan applications, and 10 per cent of those who go through the application process use RoboChat, asking, on average, five questions per session.
According to UBank, RoboChat has been able to answer 80 per cent of the 22,000-plus questions correctly on first attempt.
“Conversation is how we engage with customers — and it’s really important to us that we speak like humans, rather than a bank. Using conversational AI through IBM Watson enables us to find and share complex information in real time. This not only improves efficiency for our people but also improves the total customer experience, helping us to achieve our vision of becoming Australia’s most referred brand,” a UBank spokesperson told Mortgage Business.
Additionally, given that RoboChat is able to attend to customer queries immediately while also reducing the need for employees to answer similar customer questions over and over again, the bank has seen an uplift in employee efficiency.
CIO Jeremy Hubbard had previously said that, as an online bank, it’s important for UBank to grow its customer base without growing the size of its core operations at the same scale.
This is one of the reasons UBank decided to dip its toes in the AI pool last year, starting with customer-facing chatbots.
Further to RoboChat, UBank has also this week unveiled RoboBrain, a “hyper-personalised” cognitive assistant designed specifically for the bank’s customer service team.
Instead of sifting through the bank’s various knowledge bases, employees are able to type in a question in natural language while on the phone or on LiveChat with a customer — such as “What was the interest rate in June 2011?” or “How do I set up a regular transfer?” — and find answers within approximately two seconds, according to UBank.
The NAB-owned bank claims that RoboBrain, since going live earlier this month, has sped up processes for more than 40 per cent of its 200 employees, cutting down search time by 33 per cent.
“In today’s world, we’re seeing more and more businesses move to offshore models, with customer service teams fragmented as a result. At UBank, all of our staff are based in Australia, which we know is important to our customers. With RoboBrain, we wanted to create technology that not only empowers our local team but also benefits our customers through innovation,” UBank CEO Lee Hatton said.
The accuracy of both RoboChat and RoboBrain is expected to improve over time through continued use due to machine learning capabilities.
“RoboBrain will learn and improve by adapting to the search terms used, based on the rating applied and through ongoing training by UBank experts,” the NAB-owned bank said.
While AI is still a technology in progress, UBank told Mortgage Business that it has already had “an unparalleled impact on the Australian home loan market” by automating processes, improving efficiencies and providing people with new tools to deliver better customer experience.
“We expect to see these improvements move from strength to strength in the coming years. While there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to AI, it’s really important [that] organisations embrace the technology to adapt to the ever-increasing expectations of our customers,” the UBank spokesperson said.
Tas Bindi is the features editor on the mortgage titles and writes about the mortgage industry, macroeconomics, fintech, financial regulation, and market trends.
Prior to joining Momentum Media, Tas wrote for business and technology titles such as ZDNet, TechRepublic, Startup Daily, and Dynamic Business.