💸Why your bank needs a bot?

We are living in an increasingly digital and connected world, which has had consequences on consumers’ expectations and exchanges with brands. Consumers today live in the moment, place great importance on customer experience and expect instant gratification. The interest in simple, intuitive technology has grown significantly within the banking sector in recent years. Thanks to technological advancements, banks can now interact with customers on their preferred messaging channels to improve customer experience, reduce friction and drive growth. We are starting to witness an increasing number of banks creating a conversational banking application, be it chat or voice based.

 

conversational banking application

A trend too big to ignore

Conversation banking, which refers to managing your finances through a voice and/or text interface, has taken off partly due to the increasing popularity of messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, which sends an average of 64 billion messages on a daily basis, as well as social media chat provided by the likes of Facebook. The market is expected to continue to boom, with experts predicting that messaging platforms will acquire one billion extra users by 2018, bringing the total to a whopping 3.6 billion users! Furthermore, platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana are being increasingly present in consumer lives. Strategy Analytics predicts that 24 million smart speakers will be shipped in 2017 on a global level. This reflects a 300% increase on the previous year. The increasing presence of smart speakers and messaging platforms is driving banks to create innovate conversational solutions in order to keep up with customer expectations and touch customers on the channels they use the most.

 

The current state of conversational banking

Recent improvements in Natural Language Understanding and Machine Learning mean that we can create even more sophisticated conversational bots that make it even easier for banks to communicate with customers in a two way manner across multiple touchpoints. As a consequence, an increasing number of banks are employing schemes that enable customers to interact with banking assistants in order to get information and make payments using their own voice or via textual chat.  Over 10 000 bots exist on Messenger including large financial corporations such as MasterCard and American Express. In October 2016 Bank of America announced the arrival of Erica, a bot that is designed to aide customers to make more intelligent decisions. Customers can interact with Erica using voice and text. Capital One launched its Alexa Skill that enables users to check their account balance in addition to making bill payments on Amazon’s smart speaker. Santander is also piloting a scheme to allow customers to make transfers to existing payees through speaking to their SmartBank app. The German online bank N26, Monzo and the Royal Bank of Canada also offers voice payments via Siri, and Bank of America and USAA are rolling out conversational interactions for their customers.

Advantages of conversational banking for banks

Beyond advantages of being available 24/7 and giving instant responses, conversational banking offers a seamless customer experience, enabling customers to interact with their bank in a frictionless manner using their preferred channels and methods of communication. Conversational AI is also making banking easier and more accessible to groups that may have had issues with traditional banking, such as the elderly or illiterate.

 

Proposing innovative banking solutions will also help banks to better reach certain customers. 92% of Millennials say they would make a banking choice based on digital services.

 

There is a common misconception that AI is making services standard and non-personable, when in fact it can make the customer experience even more personable. Banks can collect more nuanced data thanks to conversational banking, which can be used to create a more tailored service with cross and upselling opportunities. Identifying customer behavioural patterns and flagging anomalies could also help fight fraud. Banks can also connect their bots to customer services to enable humans to intervene when necessary to provide a better integrated and enhanced customer experience.

 

Conversational banking bots can manage tasks such as customer enquiries, servicing accounts and opening new accounts. Through automating these tasks banks can reduce costs associated with customer support and free up staff to deal with more complex tasks.

 

Bots can also help banks crack The Trust Equation. Trust is one of the most crucial factors for business success. The Trust Equation is an analytical model of trustworthiness. It uses four variables to create the following equation:

 

CREDIBILITY (Words) + RELIABILITY (Actions) + INTIMACY (Emotions)

SELF ORIENTATION (Motives)

Bots can help increase credibility through giving the right responses. They can also increase reliability through being available 24/7, and inspire intimacy through honest communication. All this plus focusing on customer needs means that bots are a real asset for improving trust.

The future of conversational banking

Conversational banking is new, but it is growing. AI and machine learning mean that banks can provide personalised and contextual responses to make banking even more convenient for the customer. Voice solutions will be important in banking as more smart speakers find their way into customer homes. The potential of voice in banking is enormous. Unfortunately, smart speakers are currently limited as they are not proactive or able to combine several elements of a consumer’s life (calendar, finances, e-commerce, etc), but it is only a matter of time before voice banking applications will be able to actively notify users when they are in their overdraft or warm them of their balance before they make a purchase. Although the future and limits of conversational banking are not 100% clear, one thing is certain, banks who are first to move and innovate in this sector will gain a competitive advantage over those who don’t!

🚘Alexa, where did I park my car?

Picture the scenes, you have just got into your house but you’re not sure whether you locked your car doors and turned off the light, you’ve got a long journey tomorrow but aren’t sure if you have enough fuel left or you have forgotten where you parked your car (admit it, it has happened to you ;))… Thanks to The Bot Studio’s Alexa skill, motorists who have a connected car thanks to installing Xee’s control box, will be able to ask Amazon’s Alexa these questions from the comfort of their living room.

My connected car

Although we are not quite yet at driverless cars, the automobile industry is rapidly evolving thanks to a variety of technologies that are making cars increasingly digitally connected in order to make the experience of driving safer, more pleasurable and more practical. Global sales of connected cars are expected to increase fourfold between 2015 and 2020, adding in excess of €110 billion (US$149 billion) in revenues in the passenger car segment alone.

The Bot Studio, a bot development agency dedicated to the automobile, mobility and transportation industry, has just developed its first Alexa Skill using Smartly.AI’s bot creation platform. The skill, named My Connected Car, allows Xee customers to access their connected car data using Alexa. Xee’s control box is fitted to the car’s diagnostic  port and enables the user to get their accelerometer, GPS chip and technical information. Thanks to the Alexa skill, users will be able to get this information through asking their smart speaker. Information such as where the car is parked, remaining fuel, mileage and whether the doors are locked and the engine is off.

Try it Now

Connected cars are a powerful tool for car manufacturers because they create a recurring relationship with the customer that was not possible before. The highly valuable experiences offered via connected cars create a deeper the relationship between the motorist and their vehicle and can increase loyalty and offer opportunities for branding and awareness. The My Connected Car Alexa skill enhances and facilitates this relationship through making it even easier for motorists to interact with their vehicle through their most user-friendly interface: voice.

🛒Boulanger Dives into Conversational Commerce With Their First Google Action

French household appliance and multimedia giant, Boulanger, has taken their first step towards conversational commerce and become the first mass retailer to launch a Google Action in France.

Boulanger Google Action

The Boulanger Google Action: What can it do?

The application enables shoppers to obtain information regarding store opening hours, store addresses and the closest store to the shopper’s location. It  also allows the shopper to organise a call back with a customer service representative in order to get information on a product, service or order. How does it work? Simply say “Parler avec Boulanger” to your Google Home or your Google Assistant via your mobile phone and ask away!

Test It Now

The Rise of Conversational Commerce

Leaps and bounds of progress have been made with regards to machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) meaning that conversational applications can have more engaging and human-like conversations. Conversational applications have particularly excelled in the commerce sector.  Conversational commerce, a term coined by Chris Messina, refers to the use of chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (ie: voice) to interact with people, brands or services. Conversational commerce is becoming an essential technology for retailers, enabling them to engage with their customers using their preferred communication channels to offer a more tailored and enjoyable customer experience. Brands who are visible on smart speakers such as Google Home are also viewed as innovant among consumers. Creating voice-enabled applications is becoming more popular with businesses, Monoprix and Sephora have both recently introduced their Google Actions. The innovation race is well underway in France!

A trailblazer in the commerce ecosystem

Google Home arrived in France this summer and until now the majority of actions have been in English. The company is the first mass retailer to launch a Google Action in France, confirming their position as an industry trailblazer with innovation and customer satisfaction at the core of their business. Find out more about the Boulanger Google Action and conversational commerce at The Smart Voice Summit, an event taking place in Paris on the 1st- 2nd February.

🎾We Are Tennis releases its first Google Action with Smartly AI, just in time for the Davis Cup

We Are Tennis, a sub-brand of BNP Paribas, has created its first Google Action in collaboration with Smartly AI. The We Are Tennis Google Action enables tennis super fans to get all the latest match results, upcoming matches and key statistics concerning their favorite players.

We Are Tennis Google Action

We Are Tennis, a website 100% dedicated to tennis, is making spectating tennis even more fun and  interactive for fans by enabling them to get key information on the top 100 male and female players using their most natural interface: voice!

Wondering when Nadal’s next match is, want to know Halep’s ranking or maybe you’re watching Tsonga play and you want to know his key stats, simply tell your Google Home “parler avec We Are Tennis” and ask away, you don’t have to take your eyes of the screen!

TEST IT NOW

Conversational applications make it easier and more convenient for brands and customers to interact. More and more homes, cars and workplaces possess a smart speaker, Strategy Analytics predicts that 24 million smart speakers will be shipped in 2017 on a global level, representing a 300% increase on the previous year. By 2018 Gartner estimates 30% of interactions with smart machines will occur by voice, showing that voice interaction takes the crown of mobile and represents the next major interface for people to interact with their devices. Freshly arrived in France this summer; Google now offers of 3 different types of Google Home speakers for our living rooms. Expected to be THE Christmas gift of 2017, the race is on for brands to create their Action on Google in order to keep up with innovation and offer customers amazing, seamless experiences possible over all channels.

Smartly AI is thrilled to have collaborated with We Are Tennis to help them become one of the first companies in France to create an Action on this platform, positioning them as a voice pioneer in the industry. We Are Tennis is a sub-brand of BNP Paribas. BNP Parisbas has been a close ally of Smartly AI from the early days; we are part of their startup programme and they are a shareholder, therefore, collaborating on their (and our) first Action is a milestone moment in our two companies’ histories.

The timing of the voice application’s release is perfectly synchronised with BNP Paribas’ Davis Cup final!. Get more out of the tournament by activating the Google Action!

☕The Next Gen Virtual Assistant (EP 1)

Ep1: VIRTUAL assistants are the future of computing. The next big thing since mobile. Still, trying to duplicate the App Store paradigm within VIRTUAL assistants is a mistake, here is why, and here is how to fix it.

Virtual assistant

Capitain Picard’s famously known for his “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” voice command to the Star Trek Computer.

 

I love Virtual Assistants. They communicate like us, they are not bond to a single object, they can live everywhere, are always here to help. Virtual assistants are the most effective and the most natural way of interaction. If anything, Virtual Assistants will be a major component of our future.

Still in 2017, we are still in the Assistant’s infancy age. Their conversations are limited to deterministic dialog trees, and regarding the Turing test… well, we are not there yet. Assistants have great ears, and pretty good voices but really poor brains. A 3 year old’s brain at best.

Having said that, some of the best best (human) brains in the world are currently working on this issue and we should hit the Singularity before 2050 and have fun remembering how basic initial versions of Assistants were in 2017.

But as “the future has to be built to exist“, what should we forge next? What’s the next milestone for Assistants ? My opinion is should focus on a better way of providing voice services and that this will happen with the reinvention of the Skills paradigm.

Today: Atomic Skills 🤖

The agent is the core of the assistant.

An agent is composed of:

  • Personality: Assistant’s name, a voice, personality, and lots of predefined answers.
  • Core Skills: Music, Weather, Q&A, Calculation, Translation, and of course Jokes…
  • Third party Skills: Additional features created by brands and developers

With the core skills, the user experience is pretty straight-forward. Let’s look at some examples with an assistant that for the sake of neutrality, I will call Computer.

  • Computer, set the temperature to 23.
  • Computer, what is the weather?
  • Computer, play me some French Touch Electro.

Things become clunky when it comes to the third party skills which are supposed to represent the majority:

  • Computer, ask Capital One how much I spent on restaurants last month.
  • Computer, ask Uber where my driver is.
  • Computer, ask the Financial Times for the last stock quotes.
  • {Assitant’s Name}, ask {App Name} for {Whatever you are looking for}

So as a user, if I want to make use of third party skills, I have to:

  • Be aware of and remember the invocation name of the third party skills I may need
  • Choose the right one to use among the many options available
  • Formulate my request in a very un-natural way

Furthermore, all of this happens in closed conversation bubbles that are unable to communicate with each other. This completely breaks the “Speak Naturally” argument.

For example, here is how today you can plan a week end with a limited budget:

  • Computer, ask Acme Bank for my account balance.
  • You have 138 € left.
  • ….
  • Computer, how is the weather like in Marseille this week end?
  • The weather will be sunny with a maximum of ….
  • Computer, ask National-Rail for a Paris – Marseille ticket this friday
  • The next train to Marseille is 98 euros , and leaves at 8:00pm from Paris, would you like to book it ?
  • Ok book it
  • Ok booked!

Hum, 3 different skills used to book a train ticket. There is certainly room for improvement there!

The Future: Interconnected microskills

Wouldn’t it be better like this:

  • Computer, what is the weather like in Marseille this weekend?
  • The weather will be sunny with a maximum of ….
  • Ok, I am in! Find me a cheap train ticket for tomorrow morning
  • The next train to Marseille is 98 euros , and leaves at 8:00pm from Paris, would you like to book it?
  • Wait how much left in the bank?
  • You have 138 euros left.
  • Ok book it !
  • All done, and I just sent the ticket to your inbox.

Enabling such human like conversations will lead to more natural and appealing user experiences, which is the ultimate Graal every designer is looking for!

To make these natural conversations happen, we should rethink the way the Assistant and in particular the third party skills work. My suggestions to fix this is a shared context between skills and a deeper integration of skills so they can just disappear in the back end to make great conversations shine!

PS: See you soon for ep2 😉!

 

👥EVENT: The Smart Voice Summit, Paris, 1st – 2nd February

Smartly AI is delighted to announce that it will hosting The Smart Voice Summit, the first event dedicated to voice assistants in Europe, in Paris on the 1st – 2nd February 2018.

Voice technology event

The event, which is the first of its kind in Europe, will unite the voice ecosystem over the course of two days in order to discuss trends, challenges and the future of the voice industry in the form of keynotes, roundtables, workshops and networking opportunities.

Why?

Digital assistants are disrupting our world, from how we shop and interact with our favourite brands, to how we drive our cars and organise our holidays. Companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft are doing everything possible to spur this voice driven future.  It is clear that voice interaction is here to stay and represents the next major interface for humans to interact with their devices. Irrelevant of industry, businesses should be incentivised to create a voice application in order to keep up with this major technology paradigm shift and meet their customer’s’ expectations. Voice applications can be used in a large number of contexts: to get information on a product or company, to enhance customer experiences and improve existing procedures, in addition to offering opportunities for scale and personalisation and driving engagement.

Numerous organisations have already launched their voice strategy, however, there is still room to innovate the space and create a unique vocal experience for your industry. The Smart Voice Summit will provide attendees with all the information they need to do exactly this. Through keynotes, roundtables and workshops, attendees will understand the importance of creating a voice experience, as well as how to design intelligent voice applications to meet specific use case, and create an effective voice strategy.

The program

Day one

Focus: Voice and business

Listen to voice professionals and industry trailblazers who are already seeing the success of their voice strategy. In addition to keynotes, listen to industry specific debates around voice applications, their challenges and advantages.

Day two

Focus: Voice and design

Participate in interactive workshops with Voice Designers in order to understand the best practices of voice design in order to create stand out voice applications that achieve you goals.

Who should attend

Day 1: Anyone wanting to better understand the benefits of voice for their business and how to implement a successful voice strategy.

Day 2: Voice designers wanting to perfect their voice applications.

When and where?

1st-2nd February

Day 1: BNP, 14 Rue Bergère, 75009 Paris

Voice Technology Event

Day 2:  WAI, 19 boulevard Poissonnières 75002 Paris

Take advantage of our early bird rate and get your ticket now!

BE THERE

🗯 INFOGRAPHIC: Top Google Home Actions by category

Google’s smart speaker Google Home is on a world conquest! In addition to the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, it was recently launched in France and Australia. An increasing number of companies are developing voice applications for this smart speaker in order to better reach new and existing customers.

Amazon Alexa is still far ahead from the competition with its 15 000 skills but it is just a matter of time before Google Home catches up.

Take a closer look at some of the Top Google Home Actions available, which we have tested and classified by category!

 

best google actions

Audio

Deezer

Listen to all of your favorite songs, radios and podcasts in streaming for free and “unlimited”

 

Google Play Music

Listen to songs adapted to your current activity or mood by launching radios associated to titles, artists or albums or use the musical rankings.

 

Spotify Music

Listen to your music anytime and anywhere. Create your own playlist with your favorite tunes or discover new ones by choosing a playlist already made.

 

Food and Drinks

Domino’s

This action allows you to order a pizza by only using your Google Home and your voice.

 

Food Network

Access to a huge collection of recipes created by your Food Network chefs and learn how to cook new meals and desserts

 

My Wine Guide

Have your own virtual sommelier helping you choose a the most convenient wine for your meal.

 

Tender Cocktails

Have your own virtual bartender recommending you cocktails based on what you like and dislike, what you have on hand and what you are in the mood for.

 

Games

Akinator

This character can read your mind and guess who you are thinking about when you answer his specific questions.

 

MadLibs

You can play world’s greatest word game with this app!

 

SongPop

Listen to an extract and guess what is the song title and who is the singer as fast as you can.

 

Tic Tac Toe

A classic game!

 

News

CNCB

Access fast, accurate and actionable business news, financial information and market data

 

CNN

Use this action when you want to know what is happening in the world and get the global news gathering power of CNN

 

HuffPost

Access to the principal news source for millennials and stay informed about the latest stories

 

The Wall Street Journal

Stay up to date with all the finance actualities and get the latest headlines and interactive features from the Wall Street Journal

Organisation

AutoVoice

Create custom voice commands and start controlling your house only by using your voice

 

IFTTT (If This Then That)

This action helps you do more with the services you love by automating various daily tasks for different web services, mobile apps or connected objects.

 

My Day

Start your day the right way and wake up and hear the information you need without going online or opening your calendar.

 

Todoist

Manage your task, anytime and anywhere, by creating your own list, plan everything  in advance and don’t miss a thing.

 

Smart Home

August Home

Control your front door just by using your Google Home and your voice!

 

Nest

Control the temperature of your house with your voice.

 

Philips Hue

With Google Home and Philips Hue you can easily adjust your lights with your voice.

 

Smart Things

This action lets you easily control, monitor, and secure your home from anywhere in the world.

 

Streaming devices

Google ChromeCast

Diffuse your favourite entertainments on your TV or your favourite songs on your speakers

 

Play to Sony TV

Stream Photos, Music & Videos from 150+ websites, your phone or other media servers to your big screen.

 

Philips TV Remote

This action can replace your traditional remote. Change the TV channel, turn up the sound and more just with your voice.

 

Toshiba

This action allows you to easily share the media content to your TV and watch the content on TV using its FollowMe TV technology.

 

Travel & transport

Kayak

Find flights, hotels and car hire for a good price, this action suggest you different options based on a hundred travel websites

 

Uber

Ask your Google Home to order you an Uber.

 

Videos and photos

Google Photos

Your photos and videos are all saved and organized automatically  into a gallery to allow you to find and share them easily

 

Youtube

Discover content viewed all around the world: from popular video clips to video games news passing by the latest actualities and more!

 

Netflix

Watch instantly a thousand films and TV shows included in your subscription.

 

Others

FitStar Personal Trainer

Stay in shape with this action’s dynamic programs adapted to your objectives and aptitudes

 

Genius

Find any lyrics of your favorite songs or just read musical actualities.

 

WikiHow

Learn easily how to do everything with the world’s biggest manual.

 

Want to create your own voice application for Google Home or Amazon Alexa? Contact us for a demo! 

 

REQUEST A DEMO

 

👥People to Follow in the Voice Ecosystem

We are delighted to see the speed at which the voice ecosystem is expanding. Each player in this field is bringing their own ideas and knowledge, which is attracting more and more curiosity from others and prompting exchanges and further innovation. All of this is all contributing to a healthy and booming ecosystem.

With the community growing bigger everyday, it can be easy to get lost! But fear not, we’ve got you covered…

From company CEOs to voice experts, enthusiasts and developers, we have compiled a list of voice influencers that you need to watch in order to keep up to date with the most groundbreaking and interesting voice first content.

Don’t be shy; get following, sharing and exchanging with them 🙂

voice ecosystem

For the complete details of the list with clickable links, please click here!

 

We hope you found this article helpful and that it enabled you to discover new people. Please note that the list is in alphabetical order and not order of preference. If we missed a name that should be on the list, please let me know!

If you want to find out about Smartly.AI’s all in one platform for building voice and chatbots, give us a shout at: hello@smartly.ai

Pssst: Incase you missed it, check out our world voice ecosystem infographic!

🚗 How The Bot Studio Created a Cross Device Voice Application with Smartly AI

Developed by The Bot StudioTalk To My Car is the first virtual assistant for connected drivers, which aims to make motorists’ lives easier. The company developed a voice application to be deployed on both Google Home and Amazon Alexa using Smartly AI’s voice application creation platform.

Laurent Dunys, the company’s CEO and founder, explains to us his motivations for creating a voice app, and why he did it with Smartly AI.

Cross Device Voice Application

Why did you create a voice application?

In the early 2017, we released Talk To My Car, the first Chatbot on FB Messenger that enables drivers to chat with their connected cars, for example, to enquire about the fuel level, battery, if they locked the doors or even the location of the parked car. We observed that users liked to use the app at home in the morning, we therefore decided that a 100% voice version of the app, deployed on Alexa and Google Assistant, could be practical for users, as it would enable them to get ready for the day and prepare their car journey simultaneously, using only their voice!

Why did you choose Smartly AI?

With the arrival of Google Home in France this summer and the success of Amazon Echo and the USA and Europe, we wanted to make sure that our app was available on both devices. After making some research, we found out that the Smartly.ai’s team was a well established expert in the voice assistance technology, and that their platform enabled us to develop our app once and deploy it on any device, saving us precious development time and enabling us to offer exactly the same voice experience on both devices! We also believe it will save us considerable time and efficiency during maintenance and for all future product evolutions.

What do you think of the solution?

Very intuitive and simple to use, we quickly mastered the platform, and it was a great collaborative tool. Our project manager created the intents and entities of the app, as well as the conversation tree, and our developer integrated the code accordingly.  In total, it took us 6 days to develop the 100% voice version of Talk To My Car on both Alexa and Google Home. (user authentication included).

Demo of Talk to my Car on Alexa

What are the results of the app so far?

Today, our voice app is in testing phase, but it works perfectly on both devices. We are currently reviewing the Amazon and Google’s certification checklists and then we will release our 100% voice version of Talk To My Car to the world, watch this space!

Want to create a voice app too? Get in touch for a demo!

🚀Introducing our new Platform for Google Home & Amazon Alexa Voice Applications

We are delighted to announce that our new voice application platform is live!!! Head over to our website to request an access and start creating beautiful voice applications for Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Our launch coincides with the release of Google’s smart speaker, Google Home, in France.

The smart speaker market, originally pioneered by Amazon, is expected to hit USD 13 billion by 2024. With several technology giants announcing their plans to take on Amazon and Google in the smart speaker market, it is clear that voice represents the next major interface for communication between humans and machines, and a major new client touchpoint for companies.

Designing a voice application can be complicated. Our platform was created in order to accompany businesses in this voice revolution through radically simplifying the process of building, testing and monitoring voice applications for smart speakers.

Smartly AI's plaform makes voice applications easy

“As advocates of voice since 2012, we are delighted to witness the mainstream adoption of this technology and to be a key player in this booming industry. Smartly AI Voice Platform was built with the ambition of widening the access to voice interfaces and introducing conversational intelligence into daily lives of everyone”, Hicham Tahiri, CEO at Smartly AI.

Most voice application platforms today are created for developers. Smartly AI has been designed to enable all the profiles in a project team to effectively work together to create a voice application. This has been made possible by abstracting all the complexity of the conversational AI via a simple and universally understable dialog flow, making conversational AI accessible to all the stakeholders of the voice project: developers, voice user interface designers, marketers, project managers and beta testers.

Our unique framework means that a user has to only create a voice application once on the platform, then can deploy it on whichever voice platforms they want. This saves users a significant amount of time in voice application creation and ensures that the same user experience is replicated across all devices.

Smartly AI’s in house natural language understanding recognizes and classifies requests, and extracts entities (the parts of the speech that give it context, such as times, dates and locations), meaning companies do not need an expert in machine learning to create a voice application. This also means that the platform is completely independant from GAFA and other third parties.

It took us some time, but we are delighted with the result and hope you will be too! Head over to our brand new website and request an access now, all feedback welcome!