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OCBC's AI chatbot answers consumers' home and renovation loan queries

Nurdianah Md Nur | April 5, 2017
The robo-advisor went through a rigorous programming and testing process in a secure yet realistic environment for three months in order to provide answers accurately and quickly.

OCBC's  AI-powered chatbot called Emma
Credit: OCBC Bank

Customers of OCBC Bank in Singapore can now get their home and renovation loan queries instantly answered by an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot.

Called Emma, the chatbot is the result of the collaboration between OCBC Bank's home loans team and CogniCor, a startup from OCBC's fintech accelerator programme.

The chatbot is able to calculate the estimated loan a customer is entitled to, as well as provide customers a step-by-step guide on applying for loans. Since it is able to do so within its chat window on OCBC Bank's home loan website, consumers do not need to be directed to a separate website to find the relevant information.

 "We want consumers to get real-time information without scrolling through our website or waiting for a reply via the conventional channels [which usually takes one or two working days]," said Phang Lah Hwa, Head, Consumer Secured Lending, OCBC Bank. "With a higher acceptance of virtual assistants in recent years, service-oriented chatbots are a natural progression to giving consumers better access to basic details about home loans."

According to OCBC Bank, Emma went through a rigorous programming and testing process in a secure yet realistic environment for three months in order to address all possible questions asked by consumers about home loans and renovation loans.  

The chatbot is now able to identify and associate with the exhaustive terminology-including industry abbreviations-used in the process of applying for or refinancing a home loan. It will also be updated whenever new or revised regulations are introduced.

For complex enquiries, suggested topics generated from keywords embedded in the questions will be presented to customers. If they wish to speak directly to OCBC Bank's Mortgage Specialists, Emma will then ask for their contact details.

The chat logs of these customers will be provided to the Mortgage Specialists following up on their requests. This allows the Mortgage Specialists to give customers tailored consultations without any need for consumers to repeat their questions

Emma has processed more than 20,000 enquiries since its launch in January 2017. Nine out of 10 customers were satisfied with the assistance rendered by Emma. More than 10 percent of the chat sessions have also been converted into mortgage loan sales prospects, according to OCBC.

"The response from both our staff and the consumers has been very encouraging and, as Emma continues to 'learn', we are confident that chatbots will be an even more integral part of OCBC's frontline service team in the near future," said Phang.


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