At ABN AMRO Bank, we aim to be a personal bank in the digital age. Our approach to customer engagement is “digital first” while offering easy access to personalized services and live advisors.

This synthesis of the digital and human can be seen from how a conversational AI assistant helped transform our customer service. Assisted by IBM Services, we developed a virtual agent called Anna that is the first line of digital contact for retail and commercial banking customers.

The virtual agent applies IBM Watson natural language processing and intelligent search to understand the customer’s need in that moment. Then, it automatically responds to routine queries and passes more complex requests to the right expert.

In a sense, Anna serves as the matchmaker between the customer and ABN AMRO advisors, helping them provide fast, custom service.

A virtual agent that connects with customers

No wonder Anna has become so popular. Each year, it handles around 500,000 interactions with a high degree of accuracy and a winning personality. In fact, one customer, after being transferred to a live agent, quipped, “Hey, where’s Anna? We had a great conversation, I want her back!”

ABN AMRO formerly served customers primarily through live call center agents, but human-powered service isn’t easy to scale when the volume rises. And agents often were tied up responding to routine requests, frustrating customers due to long hold times.

Now, Anna picks up instantly, chats in everyday Dutch, and has the intelligence to discover the customer’s intention. It can perform balance lookups and other common tasks without human intervention.

Data analysis can improve service and the digital landscape

For issues beyond the routine, Anna forwards the engagement to advisors who are experts in mortgages, investments, loans and other domains. It can also escalate general queries about financial management and urgent cases of potential fraud.

Anna’s scalability boosts call center efficiency. Each year during tax season, for instance, the volume spikes when customers request tax documents. The virtual agent deflects 85% of the surge, freeing agents for higher value work.

Another advantage is Anna’s data driven approach to improving the digital landscape. Rather than studying clicks and page views, our managers can analyze stored AI dialogues at scale for insights into customer concerns and misunderstandings. They can use these insights to improve banking services and digital communications.

A trusted partner for AI solution development

Anna’s success highlights the importance of choosing the right development partner. In our vendor evaluation, we looked for a scalable, security-rich AI platform. We also sought open communications about the vendor’s AI vision and strong support for the Dutch language.

These criteria led to IBM Services, which flew experts in from across Europe to share their vision for AI. Our intuition that we would work well together was correct. And Watson services have proved flexible and easy to use.

ABN AMRO developers can quickly adjust chat dialogues, add new content and create conversational virtual agents for different customer groups. As a result, we’re advancing our digital transformation by infusing AI throughout the enterprise.

Listen to Jeroen Das and Bob van Groningen discuss  customer service using conversational AI:

Was this article helpful?

More from Financial services

Top financial services trends of 2024 

4 min read - The start of 2024 brings forth many questions as to what we can expect in the year ahead, especially in the financial services industry, where technological advances have skyrocketed and added complexities to an already turbulent landscape. While high interest rates and inflation concerns are carrying over into the new year, financial services trends signal to prepare for major changes in real-time by staying up-to-date on all financial services-related matters, including in banking and capital markets sectors. This coming year,…

How IBM and TechPassport are helping to ignite innovation between financial institutions and fintechs

3 min read - We are increasingly seeing how fintechs have been transformational for the financial services industry, but deploying fintech innovation in such a highly regulated industry can take time, potentially slowing adoption and time to market. As large financial institutions look to bring on new partners, they may ask themselves: where do we start? How do we find high-fidelity suppliers? How do we onboard them? How do we begin to work with them and ensure our security and compliance measures remain intact?  …

Temenos brings innovative payments capabilities to IBM Cloud to help banks transform

3 min read - The payments ecosystem is at an inflection point for transformation, and we believe now is the time for change. As banks look to modernize their payments journeys, Temenos Payments Hub has become the first dedicated payments solution to deliver innovative payments capabilities on the IBM Cloud for Financial Services®—an industry-specific platform designed to accelerate financial institutions' digital transformations with security at the forefront. This is the latest initiative in our long history together helping clients transform. With the Temenos Payments…

Financial planning & budgeting: Navigating the Budgeting Paradox

5 min read - Budgeting, an essential pillar of financial planning for organizations, often presents a unique dilemma known as the “Budgeting Paradox.” Ideally, a budget should give the most accurate and timely idea of anticipated revenues and expenses. However, the traditional budgeting process, in its pursuit of precision and consensus, can take several months. By the time the budget is finalized and approved, it might already be outdated.In today's rapid pace of change and unpredictability, the conventional budgeting process is coming under scrutiny.It's…

IBM Newsletters

Get our newsletters and topic updates that deliver the latest thought leadership and insights on emerging trends.
Subscribe now More newsletters