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No matter how fast technology changes, there are certain things that don’t change. When it comes to customer service Japan is famous for its high standard of respect, politeness and personal assistance to every customer. Japan is also known for innovation and unique approaches to customer service in retail, hospitality, transport and many more, including banking.
Yet in Japan’s banking industry customer expectations are changing fast. No longer is it enough to provide high quality services. Customers are expecting deeper understanding of their individual needs and faster resolution of inquiries and transactions. And in today’s increasingly competitive environment, every interaction matters as experiences are shared through social media can have a big impact.
With the increasing volume of information and choices available to customers, it’s more difficult for any individual to know enough information to help every customer with all their banking related inquiries. To change this situation we are helping our customer services employees draw on the collective experience and expertise of the entre Mizuho Bank team.
At Mizuho Bank we are taking the everyday values of Japanese customer service to the next level. As teaming and collaboration are fundamental ways of working in Japan, being able to tap into our collective expertise for our customers is now core to our strategy.
In the banking environment, every single transaction we make with a customer is a piece of information. Banking is unique in the sense that our industry already has an enormous amount of unstructured and structured data at hand. When you put this in the context of serving customers, the volume of data very quickly explodes – and in Mizuho Bank’s case – that’s millions of customers who seek individual attention.
By capitalizing on all this data and using the Watson technology, we are bringing together the collective knowledge and experience from across our organisation, and making it available to our customer service teams in our branches and call centres.
To support our call centre staff, the Watson system converts phone conversations to text and in real-time delivers information and answers to the Customer Service Operator on their screen or device.
We are also using the Watson system via the Pepper robot as a concierge service within some branches in Japan. This service is designed to help customers who may be reluctant to ask questions the customer perceives as too simplistic or trivial. During our pilot programs, our customer’s reaction to this type of service has been very positive, and offers another choice of service for our customers.
The implementation of Watson technology is also helping Mizuho Bank reinvent our process of knowledge transfer and ensure consistency and certainty on the delivery of information to our customers. It is transforming the way our employees are working.
With our customer service teams able to quickly access data in the context of relevant customer preferences and conversations, and receive evidence-weighted guidance, we can have deeper understanding and better relationships with our customers.
As a result, we are shifting from a static approach to a more dynamic, consultative engagement with our customers, and will shape the future of banking in Japan.