Royal Bank of Scotland to Launch Chat Bot with IBM Watson

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Royal Bank of Scotland will soon launch a customer pilot of Luvo, a chat bot taught to answer customers' questions in near-real time and route more complex requests to advisers using IBM Watson Conversation.

RBS has been testing Luvo to handle the most frequent types of inquiries more efficiently, by preventing customers from being passed through a number of advisers before finally receiving the information they need. It also allows the advisers to spend more time focusing on complex customer questions.

The bank conducted a two-month trial earlier this year among small-business customers. Some 1,200 RBS staff employed the chatbot to handle common inquiries like lost corporate cards or forgotten PINs. Luvo will be available to 10% of its banking customers through its web chat service beginning in December, RBS said Tuesday.

Luvo uses IBM Watson Conversation, a cloud-based cognitive tool. It will soon employ Watson Alchemy Language capability to better understand customer sentiment, like unhappiness or frustration, and change its tone and actions accordingly. For example, it would be able to sense the difference between a customer needing to replace a lost card versus a stolen card.

Citigroup began using Watson in 2012 to analyze customer needs and process client data. Other banks have employed the AI program to help their wealth management units. Last week, IBM agreed to buy Promontory Financial Group to teach Watson risk management and compliance issues at banks.

"As this cognitive system continues to learn over time," RBS "will be able to expand Luvo's capabilities to more complex areas such as providing increased personalization and using predictive analytics to detect possible issues before they arise to make a recommended course of action," Chris Withers, Europe head of financial services for Watson Solutions from IBM, said in a press release.

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