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OCBC Bank’s Emma: How a chatbot aided in generating leads and conversions

As many banks looks towards the next phase of digital transformation, incorporating and experimenting with new technologies is often necessary to optimise the customer experience journey. This includes the use of chatbots, which can aid an organisation in reducing call volume when it comes to more basic or straightforward queries.

For OCBC Bank, chatbots were a key tool in bolstering the amount of leads and transactions the company had. Its bot Emma for example, helped the bank double its average monthly leads from digital channels year on year – pointing to an increasing trend of self-service from customers. On average, Emma sees a monthly visitorship averaging at around 1,000 with higher spikes during campaigns.

The chatbot, said Cedric Dias, head of digital and product marketing, OCBC Bank, allowed leads to have a conversion rate of four times when compared to traditional web channels.

And while it might be a fear for some that bots might take away from the human experience, Dias says Emma clearly proves otherwise “as technology is able deliver a good customer experience”.

“We also created a scalable opportunities for the business, ranging from freeing up our staff, to more efficient production services, 24/7 availability and a huge knowledge base,” Dias added. The bank’s tests with the chatbot on its home loans offering also gave it confidence to roll out Emma on other different sections on the sites. This allowed Emma to learn and perfect her interactions with customers.

When it comes to defining where human intervention is needed during the chatbot journey, Dias says the first step lies in identifying and mapping out the customer journey. This includes speaking to both the front line staff, as well as customers.

“There are obvious signals for human intervention – such as when customer data is required. Another is a when the company feels there is a trigger for business transactions,” Dias explained during Marketing’s Customer Experience conference. He added that while the bank pushes to conduct sensitive business transactions face to face than on the chatbot, it also found some customers who feel comfortable carrying the conversations forward on the chatbot.

Nonetheless, the bank ensures that no secured information and customer data is passed on to the chatbot and most of the training data provided to Emma on the bank’s products and services are largely available on the website.

“People come [on the chatbot] wanting answers on information which exists within the public domain. That is general information we publish on the website, which may lie in the website itself or its Q&A or FAQ sections,” Dias explained. When asked by members of the audience how this differentiates the chatbot from a search engine such as Google, Dias explained that the difference lies in the level of feedback found in conversations.

“What you get from Google is the first level of information. But when it comes to the second, third or fourth level of information and how to make the links, it’s more time-consuming for the customer, and they can potentially get lost in the process. The chatbot helps to solve these problems,” Dias said.

Another challenge when launching the platform was figuring out the right support plan for the chatbot initiative. This includes working with technology to deliver a good and working chatbot. To tackle this, the chatbot team first looked at scope and intent – resulting in its decision to use the chatbot for home loans services. This includes factors such as eligibility, affordability, applying for the loan, which are processes which are usually more straightforward and seamless. As such for home loans, the scope and intent was clear.

“There was a very easy pattern to determine why customers come to the site and it allowed us to grame the questions in a very defined format. This allowed us to take tools which are available and integrate into the chatbot itself,” Dias added.

Despite the benefits of chatbots, one problem still plaguing marketers is the issue of measurement and as such getting the buy in from management.  OCBC too had to grapple with the issue when it first started, said Dias.

We had to be more conservative as a result because of the lack of clarity on the metrics for success that we can go after and achieve.

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