• July 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Nuance’s Nina Adds a Human Touch to Swedbank’s Customer Service

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While Swedbank’s branch locations see a lot of foot traffic, about 60 percent of its customers regularly bank with the company digitally, and 80 percent log in to one of the Swedish bank’s digital channels at least once a month, including more than 20 logins per month to Swedbank’s mobile channel.

In 2014, Swedbank estimated that by 2018, digital channels would be its customers’ primary choice of contact with the bank, making it a priority that those channels were equipped with self-service capabilities that could provide customers with answers quickly and easily.

For Swedbank, this digital transformation was no small feat. It serves more than 8 million people and 600,000 corporate customers through more than 300 branches in its home country of Sweden and 200 other branches in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It also has additional operations in Norway, Finland, Denmark, the United States, China, Luxembourg, and South Africa.

So in response, the bank added Nuance Communications’ Nina intelligent virtual assistant on its Web site that same year.

At the time, the bank’s 700 contact center agents, spread across five sites, were handling about 3.6 million inbound interactions, including roughly 500,000 emails and 10,000 social media interactions, a year. Agents also generated about 1 million outbound interactions.

Within just three months of being deployed, Swedbank’s Nina virtual assistant was handling more than 30,000 conversations per month, with a first-contact resolution rate of 78 percent. As a result, 55 percent of conversations did not require customers to take further action, such as calling the contact center, according to Martin Kedbäck, head of channel management at Swedbank.

Today, of the 3.6 million annual calls that Swedbank receives, more than 2 million are resolved through self-service, enabling agents to focus on the more complex queries. There are 350 questions (and counting) that Nina has been programmed to answer.

When visiting Swedbank’s Web site, customers can ask Nina their questions using conversational language. Nina responds with an answer to the question or by directing the customer to the relevant links or Web forms on the site. Nina can also ask clarifying questions to understand more about what the customer is looking to achieve.

“One of the most important things that Swedbank realized throughout this process is the myriad of ways consumers can ask a question,” Kedbäck says.

And agents can use Nina to help them with information searches, limiting the customer’s average call handling time and improving the overall customer experience.

“Since Nina was introduced, we’ve seen the clear impact that these sorts of interactive, conversational experiences can have when it comes to improving the consumer’s experience, and we’re also seeing tangible business benefits, particularly on the Web,” said Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Communications, in a statement. “Organizations can leverage Nina to guide customers to the answers that they need more quickly and easily on their Web site, and that translates to fewer calls and lower contact center costs, and it also presents additional opportunities for sales. It’s really a winning combination for consumers and service providers.”

Based on the success it’s seen so far, Swedbank is extending Nina to its mobile banking app, a channel that Kedbäck says is “hugely important, especially for the bank’s younger customers.”

Swedbank also plans to equip Nina with transactional capabilities, removing the need for escalation to Swedbank’s contact center for many service-related inquiries. The addition will provide new value-added services via chat and call-back; increased integration with a greater depth of customer data for more precise routing of customer interactions to the right contact center agent; and increased self-service.

“With continued use of Nina vivid on the horizon, the future looks bright for enhanced customer experience personalization,” Kedbäck says.

“With Nina, our customers have more opportunities to get in contact with us in the way they prefer,” he adds. “We like to be where our customers are, and that includes providing support online and in our digital channels. For us, it feels natural to offer our customers easy and effective ways to contact us and resolve their queries.” 

 The Payoff

Since deploying Nuance Communications’ Nina virtual assistand on its Web site, Swedbank has seen the following results:

  • 2 million of the 3.6 million calls it receives are handled entirely by self-service;
  • the first-contact resolution rate is at 78 percent; and
  • more than 350 inquiry types are handled by the system.

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