PRESS: ANZ's artificial intelligence entity Jamie took 12,000 customer inquiries in its first 100 days

Article by John Antony as featured on Stuff | November 18, 2018

ANZ is increasing the workload for its artificial intelligence technology but promises the customer service tool won't put front line bankers out of work. Launched in July, ANZ New Zealand's "digital assistant", called Jamie, was initially programmed to answer questions on the 30 most frequently searched topics on the bank's website.

In its first 100 days Jamie had more than 12,000 conversations with people visiting the site, with the most common question being how to open a bank account, which Jamie was asked nearly 1200 times.

 
 Jamie has been programmed to say it likes watching cat videos in its spare time

Jamie has been programmed to say it likes watching cat videos in its spare time

 

ANZ is planning to increase its ability to answer questions on more topics and include some Te Reo Māori in its vocabulary. At this stage the queries Jamie helps with are of a general nature only. It does not ask for any personal information, or customer number.

But ANZ head of digital and transformation Liz Maguire said it would be just "a couple of years" before Jamie was carrying out personal banking tasks.

"When you're driving in the car you might go: 'Hey, Jamie, I really need to pay the babysitter $50.' And Jamie does that for you," Maguire said.

ANZ staff were positive about the roll-out of artificial intelligence and their jobs were not at risk, she said.

 
 ANZ Head of digital and transformation Liz Maguire says artificial intelligence will eventually be carrying out banking tasks for customers

ANZ Head of digital and transformation Liz Maguire says artificial intelligence will eventually be carrying out banking tasks for customers

 

"There is no intention to use Jamie to replace our front line bankers." Maguire said it was unlikely Jamie would be used in any of its branches.

"I think that would be a bit weird. We know there are very clear times when customers wish to speak to bankers about things that are quite important parts of their financial lives."

 
 There are a few “Easter eggs” hidden within ANZ’s artificial intelligence, head of digital and transformation Liz Maguire says.

There are a few “Easter eggs” hidden within ANZ’s artificial intelligence, head of digital and transformation Liz Maguire says.

 

Jamie, who was developed with technology company Soul Machines, could interact through devices via a webcam and microphone or by typing.

The entity had been asked about its favourite movie 241 times, whether it likes turtles, what's in its fridge, what sort of tea it likes and who its favourite New Zealand geologist is.

So far it has been able to answer about 60 per cent of customer queries.

"For the next part of the pilot, we'll be making her more knowledgeable so she can answer even more questions – about banking and other things," Maguire said.

ANZ was working on developing Jamie to be able to talk about exchange rates and interest rates in real time, she said.

Jamie was constantly learning and being regularly updated with new information based on customer questions and feedback.

Its te reo Māori vocabulary would include phrases such as tēnā koe (hello), ka rawe (excellent), and mā te wā (time).

Other languages may be added in future.

"At the moment, she's very much a work in progress though. But like all of us, she's learning and she's getting better with time," Maguire said.

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Kirrily Denny