Q&A: Scott Hoglund on Conversational Banking

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Banking is changing — from mobile banking apps to the rise of conversational technologies in the banking world. James Larson, co-chair of the SpeechTEK conference talked to Scott Hoglund, Sr. Director Emerging Technology & Transformation, Discover, about his SpeechTEK 2020 presentation: Conversational Banking.

Q: What is the essence of your presentation at the SpeechTEK Conference, April 27-29, in Washington, D.C.?

A: I’ll highlight how the introduction of natural language not only benefits the bottom line but dramatically improves customer and employee experience. How a firm focused on world-class award-winning care can actually improve the experience and all other metrics.  Delivering deeper omnichannel analytics, innovative routing and treatment strategies with voice. I’ll share tips on how others can raise their utilization in a customer-friendly way and how we made the case to the C-Suite.

Q: The skill set for constructing and maintaining natural language are different from the skills needed for traditional IVR applications. How did your team acquire the necessary skills to achieve this result?

A: We leveraged training from Google/Amazon on building great NLP experiences, several books from O'Reilly (Designing Voice User Interfaces, Designing Bots) and worked with our internal conversation design teams that script our best practice agent handling call flows.

Q: Did you have a backup plan for the event that the natural language system did not provide the desired benefits? Can you briefly summarize the backup plan?

A: No. Once we saw the capability of a true natural language pilot we went all in. Having said that we were comfortable with an iterative rollout over an 18-month timeframe.

Q: What problems did users face when switching the natural language system when it was deployed?

A: Our power users took some time to adjust. Feedback and performance were strong at launch, but power users took until their fourth call before their performance exceeded the legacy DTMF IVR.

Q: What’s the most convincing point that you were able to make to the C-Suite that enabled your project to go forward?

A: Voice dominant experiences are a question of when not if. We had an opportunity to further extend our servicing lead while increasing omnichannel parity. Our C-Suite needed only to see the market data of the rise of voice, our projected CX improvements and the anticipated efficiencies.

Q: How did you introduce your natural language application to users? How did you get them to use natural language instead of keywords?

A: We began a staged rollout selecting test and control populations across the states using area codes to ensure we got a wide sample of users.  Since we begin our experience with a simple question of “what can I help you with” and we’ve trained on single word utterances as well as utterance phrases it took no effort for our users to transition.

To see presentations by Hoglund and other speech technology experts, register to attend the SpeechTEK Conference.

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