Qorus Banking Innovation Awards 2023 - Winner

Ellis: Cognitive AI & Gen. AI to revolutionize Intesa Sanpaolo's world-class Customer Service

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20/09/2023 Banking Innovation


Ellis is the AI-based Intesa Sanpaolo digital assistant, powered by Google Dialogflow technology, that has revolutionized the customer interaction experience across the bank's multiple digital touchpoints. Today, Ellis responds in natural language to the toll-free number, App Mobile, Online Banking and Public Site, covering all touchpoints available to reach out the customer service and it handles about 85% of the text requests and 55% of voice requests for the deployed use cases.In the latest months Intesa Sanpaolo introduced a PoC for the Gen. AI co-pilot, that will be scaled up to facilitate the Agents’ contact management. Indeed, since the launch the Gen. AI co-pilot PoC has showed impressive results with over 90% of Agents that considers the solution useful to perform their daily working activities.

Innovation presentation

Over the past few years, Intesa Sanpaolo has observed a significant shift in Bank-customer interactions: customers are increasingly demanding proactive, personalized and efficient support from the Digital Branch, with the ability to dialogue without waiting time and at any time of day for the most frequent and standard requests.

In this context, since 2019 the Digital Branch has introduced Ellis, the Digital Assistant based on Google Artificial Intelligence, with the aim of revolutionizing the interaction experience for customers starting with the service offered via chat on Mobile App, Internet Banking and Public Site.

Starting in 2022 the Digital Branch has decided to also activate Ellis on its toll-free number to revolutionize the customer experience via voice as well and overcome the limitations of the traditional IVR with keypad dialing. Now, thanks to Ellis, customers can communicate their needs over IVR in a natural way, as they would with a human: Ellis can recognize the customer, understand the requests, handle them automatically 24/7 or transfer them to the human Agent best suited to handle them.

Specifically, Ellis can:

a) Help customers with everyday activities, such as receiving account and balance information;

b) Provide support to securely manage accounts and cards (e.g., safely retrieve or change access codes, block a card);

c) Provide helpful tips for searching for documents within the archive and better manage deadlines;

d) Carry out operations automatically via voice, such as activating a new card or scheduling an appointment with a Branch Agent.

The Digital Assistant is trained to perform over 20 tasks end-to-end with customers and to provide them with information on over 200 banking topics. If Ellis recognize a request too complex to be handle, it will transfer the call to the first most suitable human agent, that will be able to fulfil the need of the customer. All the information collected during the call will be delivered to the human agent allowing to have a preview of need and contact history of the customer.

In 2023 Intesa Sanpaolo introduced a PoC for the co-pilot, an agent desktop powered by Generative AI, to facilitate the Agents' contact management. Intesa Sanpaolo, becoming aware of co-pilot's strong performances, is planning to scale up the solution to:

- provide agents with fast and accurate information on products and services (e.g., "What is the cost of Exclusive card?");

- summarize the contents of product info sheets, instructions sheets or other documentations (e.g., "Can you summarize in 5 lines how the customer can ask the real estate renewal bonus?");

- advise agents of what product or service he should recommend to the customer (e.g., "What is the most suitable loan for a under 30 self-employed?");

- analyze the problem reported by a customer and comparing it with previous other complains to understand if there is a real anomaly on customer position and to provide agent with the best way possible to resolve the issue and to support the customer.

Moreover the Generative AI solution supported even the Artificial Intelligence team to generate thousands of phrases used to train Cognitive solutions both on chat and voice channels.

In line with the experience gained in those years, Digital Branch adopted the following human-centric approach:

1. Assessment: identification and prioritization of main use cases by analyzing real needs of customers and agents;

2. Design: design of customer journeys and definition of the experience to proper engage customers;

3. Development: platform configuration and Generative AI integration within the agent desktop;

4. Activation & Evolution: solution release, obtained results monitoring and continuous evolution to enhance customer experience.

The project involved different business units of the bank, such as IT department, Contact Center, Innovation, Digital Channels and all validating functions (e.g., Privacy, Compliance, Cybersecurity).

Uniqueness of the project

- HUMAN + MACHINE AT SCALE (aka CONNECTION, NOT AVOIDANCE), to allow the Digital Assistant to put customers in touch with the most suited Agent every time they need human support;

- HUMAN-CENTRIC APPROACH, adopted for the design of the solution, to guarantee relevant support to both customers and agents based on their real needs and providing meaningful answers (simple, exhaustive, personalized);

- MARKET IS KING, a step-by-step approach involving a gradual extensions on customer base in function of the achieved results and of Intesa Sanpaolo's high standards is vital to release AI-based solution (results are always mandatory);

- CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT through listening and fine-tuning activities aimed at progressively evolving the solution prioritizing use cases based on inquiry's complexity or touchpoint priority (e.g., text first, then voice).

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