How Norway’s biggest bank automated 51% of its online chat traffic with AI

UPDATE JULY 2019: Aino now automates 55% of all incoming chat traffic for DNB. This equates to 20% of all customer service requests across all channels including phone and email.

DNB turned to boost.ai to manage the high volume of chat traffic to its customer center, developing a virtual banking agent that successfully automated over half of all online chat interactions in just six months.

DNB and boost.ai:

  • 51% of all incoming chat traffic automated in 6 months
  • Several thousand customer interactions enhanced - every day
  • Over 500 000 conversations since launch

DNB, Scandinavia’s biggest bank by market value, was searching for a comprehensive solution to handle an ever-increasing volume of incoming chat traffic to its website. They needed a way to free up staff from repetitive work while continuing to provide their customers with always-available, 24/7 support.

Finding the right fit for a big challenge

“The challenge for us has been that we had to use part-time temporary workers to handle the enormous amount of incoming chat traffic,” says Øyvind Brekke, EVP & Head of Digital Innovation at DNB. The bank’s considerable market share in its native Norway means that its customer support center handles several thousand chat conversations each day, many of which, while easily handled by a human, still take up valuable time and resources.

DNB worked with boost.ai to help develop and launch Aino, an advanced virtual banking agent - powered by conversational AI - with capabilities far superior to those of a typical chatbot. “Artificial intelligence is an important part of our digital strategy,” asserts Jan Thomas Lerstein, SVP & Head of IT Emerging Technologies at DNB. “In leveraging AI, our aim is to revitalize our value chains, creating better service for our customers and, of course, value for the bank,”

“The results are a lot higher than we expected”

Since its launch in June 2018, DNB has implemented Aino as first-line customer support. A confident move by the technologically-forward bank that resulted in almost immediate results. Within just four months, Aino had begun automating 50 percent of all incoming chat traffic and, to date, has interacted with over half a million customers. “The results are a lot higher than we expected in such a short time,” says Brekke, adding that the bank “works hard every day to make Aino even better and to find the right balance.”

This balance is key to DNB’s strategy for Aino going forward. No artificial intelligence-powered virtual agent can claim to be able to effectively handle every single customer query. Instead, conversational AI allows Aino to answer what it knows to the best of its ability, while seamlessly routing more complex interactions - such as questions regarding mortgages or loans - to its human colleagues, all from within the same chat window. This is a win-win for the support staff who now spend significantly less time dealing with repetitive questions and can focus instead on more meaningful interactions that bring greater value to the bank.

The right balance between human and machine

DNB has not only revolutionized how it interacts with its customers but has also opened up new opportunities for employees. “Today, we have five full-time AI Trainers at the bank,” says Carla Padro, Senior IT Project Manager for the team responsible for Aino. Dedicated to teaching Aino how to best respond to the bank’s customers, this unique role offers existing staff the chance to combine their customer service expertise with substantial knowledge of the bank’s products and a technical understanding of how conversational AI works. “Their job is simple. To make Aino the most efficient employee in the customer center” reiterates Padro, who adds that the bank has committed to hiring an additional nine AI Trainers in Q1 2019 as it continues to ramp up Aino’s capabilities.

In the future, DNB will offer even more advanced functionality through Aino, increasing the number of tasks it can perform and further personalizing the chat experience for customers. “We will continue to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with conversational AI,” says Lerstein, who understands acutely how the balance between humans and machines is crucial to elevating digital banking to its ultimate potential.

“In improving efficiency, the sky’s the limit,” he adds, optimistically - and with the Nordic banking market already boasting over 90 percent of customers regularly banking online, it makes DNB’s decision to offer frictionless digital banking support via Aino a decidedly savvy one.

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