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Australia’s NAB launches virtual assistant to help home loan applicants
Thu, 18th May 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

NAB's online counterpart UBank recently launched a virtual assistant to help potential home buyers and refinancers complete their home loan applications.

RoboChat will be available throughout the online home loan application to guide customers through the 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's goal is to help reduce the time needed for customers to complete the form by offering on-the-spot help.

Built with IBM Watson, RoboChat is still in training and will continue to learn as more customers engage with it, becoming smarter and more user-friendly over time.

RoboChat will join the current live chat functionality already offered on the site.

“Our goal is to deliver simpler, better, smarter banking to our customers, and RoboChat will help deliver on this by streamlining the application form,” UBank CEO Lee Hatton says.

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.   “UBank's work with IBM Watson is an example of how organisations 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,” IBM Watson Asia Pacific vice president Brock Douglas says.

It has been trained on data collected from customer questions submitted via its LiveChat experience and has been tested by dozens of users and iteratively trained.

Ensuring 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.

“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,” Hatton says.

While 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.

“UBank will still have experienced staff on hand to chat on the phone, via email and our live online chat offering,” says Hatton.

RoboChat provides support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.