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Nationwide’s deployment of AI comes amid growing digital transformation efforts from incumbent lenders as they look to reduce operational costs and improve how they service customers. In September 2018, for example, Nationwide announced its intention to step up its digital transformation, saying it would invest a further £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) on technology, taking its total tech investment over the next five years to £4.1 billion ($5.4 billion).
Here’s how Nationwide deployed AI to identify customer pain points and strategize to resolve issues:
- During the proof of concept (PoC), it deployed text analysis from SAS to figure out the root causes of email inquiries from customers. It also identified whether a query was subsequently resolved and the number of emails exchanged during the process. Further, Nationwide leaned on sentiment analysis from SAS to determine members’ moods throughout interactions; it found that customers become progressively unhappier as the number of email exchanges rises, for instance.
- It was able to establish that more than half of the emails sent could have been cut out entirely. Around 10% of customers who sent emails had done so because a transaction had not been resolved the first time around in another channel, while another 19% sent emails to resolve a query that was sent by email. And a further 26% of requests revolved around transactions that could have been completed via digital channels.
- Nationwide is now making changes to its website design to reduce customer friction and the need for customers to send email queries. It has changed the format of online statements, for instance, to contain the information necessary for customers to use them as proof of address, eliminating requests for paper statements.
Nationwide is the latest financial services firm to lean on AI, as interest in the technology continues to gain momentum among companies in the sector. Last week, Nordic financial services giant Danske Bank enlisted machine learning tech from IBM to help it predict and fix IT systems failures before they impact customers, for example. And this interest is only going to continue picking up pace, with AI-enabled savings in the industry expected to total upwards of $1 trillion by 2030, per Autonomous.
However, while the promise of the technology is substantial, we expect to see firms taking a progressive approach in deployment of the tech rather than instant transformation, not least because of the challenges and heavy costs associated with implementing new technologies: Last week, we reported on Bank of Ireland’s struggles to rein in the costs of its IT revamp, for instance.
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