Business challenge

CaixaBank, S.A. employees need rapid access to product information when interacting with clients, but often had to rely on a call center for extra support. How could the bank share the information faster?

Transformation

CaixaBank used IBM Watson Discovery and IBM Watson Assistant solutions to create an AI platform that can answer most employee inquiries about products, services and financial regulations instantly.

Results

80% of queries

answered instantly, reducing call center volumes

Accelerates access

to product and service information for employees

Enables faster

and more responsive customer services

Business challenge story

Leading the way in innovation

One of the “big four” Spanish banks, CaixaBank has cemented its market-leading position through a decades-long commitment to innovation, helping it to deliver first-class customer service. In recent years, the bank has launched the first mobile bank in Spain, the first European implementation of contactless payment systems, and has pioneered the use of big data in strategic decision-making.

This visionary strategy has helped CaixaBank win many awards from international publications such as Global Finance Magazine, including “Best Digital Bank in Western Europe,” “Best Digital Bank in Spain” and “Best Bank in the World for Social Media.”

At the heart of CaixaBank’s customer service is a highly skilled client-facing team with a deep knowledge of its commercial banking products. If a client or prospect needs more detailed information, the bank’s client-facing teams can contact its internal call center, which receives around 500,000 inquiries every month.

To reduce pressure on its call center and accelerate the resolution of inquiries, the bank published more than 4,800 FAQs on its intranet, along with documentation on financial regulations. To enhance the responsiveness of its customer services, the bank wanted to make this valuable information faster and easier for employees to find.

David Almendros, Director of Artificial Intelligence at CaixaBank, explains: “We are constantly aiming to increase the efficiency of our internal processes to ensure our client-facing teams have speedy access to the information they need. Our call center and intranet were effective resources, but we saw an opportunity to provide our staff with even greater support.”

Thanks to our work with IBM Watson, we are strengthening our position as a technology leader within the Spanish banking sector and maintaining our strong market position.

David Almendros, Director of Artificial Intelligence, CaixaBank, S.A.

Transformation story

Creating a virtual assistant for employees

Already a pioneer of AI in the financial sector, CaixaBank decided to build a virtual assistant to answer employee queries. The new platform is based on Watson Discovery and Watson Assistant solutions.

CaixaBank has led the way in introducing AI tools to the financial services. The bank was the first company in the world to train the Watson platform to read Spanish, and it used the solution to create a decision-support system for its foreign trading desks.

Almendros comments: “We have a long history working with IBM and have developed cutting-edge solutions together in the past. When we came to select a partner for our virtual assistant project, IBM was the natural choice.”

CaixaBank employees can access the virtual assistant via desktop or mobile devices and type their questions in natural language. The Watson solution then surfaces relevant information on products and services, internal regulations, financial legislation and more. If the chatbot cannot find an appropriate answer, the solution automatically starts a text chat with a member of the company’s internal support team. If the employee requires further support, he or she can transfer the conversation to the call center.

During the design stages of the project, CaixaBank worked with IBM to train the system with over 60,000 questions. As the virtual assistant receives more enquiries, its understanding will increase and provide even more valuable insights to the bank’s staff — and CaixaBank now has a dedicated team teaching the assistant to answer new questions.

Results story

Delivering superior client services

CaixaBank has now introduced the virtual assistant to all employees across its network of branches, which is the largest within Spain. Currently, the bank estimates that the chatbot can resolve 80 percent of all employee inquiries. By the end of 2018, CaixaBank believes the cutting-edge assistant will have answered 10 million different queries.

Almendros explains: “Our virtual assistant is set to have a major impact. As our staff can access the chatbot at any time and via their smartphones and tablet devices, they have all the resources they need to respond quickly to client questions and deliver an exceptional service. And because staff will no longer have to rely on making an enquiry via phone, we believe the project will significantly reduce the burden on our call center.”

He concludes: “Working with IBM continues to be an excellent and highly rewarding experience. IBM provides genuine expertise in the machine learning and AI space, and consistently delivers the tools we need to optimize our services and sharpen our competitive edge. Thanks to our work with IBM Watson, we are strengthening our position as a technology leader within the Spanish banking sector and maintaining our strong position in the market.”

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About CaixaBank, S.A.

CaixaBank is a Spanish financial services company headquartered in Valencia, Spain. The company consists of the universal banking and insurance activities of the La Caixa group, along with the group’s stakes in the oil and gas and telecommunications markets, as well as maintaining holdings in several other financial institutions. It is Spain’s third-largest lender by market value and has the most extensive branch network in the Spanish market.

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