Westpac to introduce customer service bots

Alison Banney 6 June 2017

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The robots will work as virtual assistants for both customers and internal Westpac staff.

Westpac will be introducing chatbots to its workforce, to act as virtual customer service assistants and help customers with product questions and provide support for customers online.

The bots will also work internally alongside Westpac staff to assist with commonly asked questions so bankers have more time to focus on complex customer queries as opposed to admin related tasks.

The bots are currently in testing and are set to be introduced to the Westpac workforce in 2018.

Westpac director of omni-channel transformation Daniel Bergan told The Australian Financial Review (AFR) the bots would not replace existing staff, but rather would help staff by completing easier, repetitive tasks.

"Bots have a very important role to play in the future of customer service as they are an efficient way to deliver a consistent outcome for repetitive tasks," Mr Bergan told the AFR.

"The key is that it enables us to be 'always on' for our customers but also frees up our people to to deal with more-complex tasks ... we then need to ensure that there is a seamless and personalised hand-off to an employee at any time the bot cannot answer a query.”

The bots are the next step after a recently completed multi-million dollar upgrade of Westpac’s customer service platforms in April, designed to better handle the 65 million customer interactions the bank deals with each year.

As part of the upgrade, customers can now click a button on their mobile banking app and be connected to a customer service representative who already knows who they are, eliminating the need to answer authentication questions and provide personal details over the phone again and again.

St. George, owned by Westpac Banking Group, introduced the new customer service platform at the end of 2016.

Bots are becoming increasingly prevalent in financial institutions looking to keep up with the changing demands of the twenty first century customer, and to remain competitive as more fintech startups emerge in the financial industry.

Just last month we saw UBank launch Australia’s first artificial intelligence chatbot for Home Loans, that answers customer questions in real time to simplify the process of completing a home loan application.

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