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Swedbank is using virtual assistant Nina to be able to deliver a faster service to its customers, increasing efficiency for the bank.

Martin Kedback, head of business development and support at Swedbank, says: “Our agents and advisers both in branches and contact centres were spending far too much time looking for answers to customer questions. A question would come in – for example, ‘How do I send this bill abroad?’ They would spend a lot of time talking to each other and searching a very poor intranet.”

Originally, Swedbank wanted to set up an internal Wiki page to help handle these requests, and sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to five or six different companies. But they were advised by Nuance to use a virtual assistant instead, as it would reduce the amount of time agents needed to spend on the phone with customers.

The bank partnered with Nuance last year, and uses Nina to answer customer queries on its external website, while an internal version of the assistant has been set up to help keep staff up-to-date about the bank’s products. Nuance provides technical support for Nina and is on-hand 40 hours per month at the bank to give advice.

The plan was to remove some of the common questions agents kept getting asked by customers over the phone. These included ‘Where is the nearest branch?’, ‘I need to order foreign currency?’ and ‘Where can I find cash?’ “It has made a big difference,” Kedback says. “We have about 1,600 conversations every day on the inner web, and out of those about 80 per cent are deflected or channelled through Nina. ‘Deflected’ means people get such a good answer that they do not need to get in touch with us at all, so problem solved; channelled is where we send them through another channel. We are saving about eight million krona [about £612,000] a year.”

Kedback says that using Nina enables the real customer agents to spend a lot more time on face-to-face meetings, which is more profitable for Swedbank. It has reduced the amount of time the staff search for information by a quarter of an hour.

When new issues arise for customers, Nina is being trained to answer some of their questions. After pension reforms were introduced in Sweden, Swedbank received a large number of calls which they did not anticipate. Staff were able to train Nina to answer some of the questions customers had.

Around 58 per cent of Swedbank’s customers are digital, and the bank is now looking to expand Nina to its mobile and iPad bank. “We are increasing the implementation of Nina,” says Kedback. “We are adding it to 52 more sites. The bank is made up of a lot of small, semi-independent savings banks. We need Nina to say welcome in the location of the bank and be up to date in the offers or discount rates of the bank.”

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