💸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!

👥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

🚗 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!

🗯INFOGRAPHIC: Top Alexa Skills by category

When first launched on Echo in the US back in November 2014, Alexa boasted a measly 13 skills; fast forward to 2017, there are now 14,000 Alexa Skills available (and the number is still growing)! Alexa is currently available on a number of devices, primarily Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, Echo Dot, Echo Look and Echo Show.

Take a closer look at some of the best Alexa skills available, which we have classified by category!

Please note these skills are available for US Amazon accounts.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

AMEX American Express

Connect American Express to Alexa through the Amex skill. Make a payment, get offers, check your balance, and more.

Bitcoin price

Get the current price of the Bitcoin.

Capital One

Find out how much money you have, make a credit card payment, get information concerning your loans, and stay up to date with your recent charges.

Mortgage Helper

Figure out home loans and mortgages quickly and avoid traps, bad companies, and fees.

The Motley Fool

Create a list of companies you want to survey and keep up to date with their market and stock activity… all in easy to understand English.

FOOD AND DRINK

Best Recipes

Tell Alexa three ingredients you have in your fridge and the Best Recipes skill will propose you a recipe!

Happy Hour

A recipe guide to over 170 popular drinks.

Ingredient Sub

Missing an ingredient for a recipe? Ask Alexa what you can substitute it for.

MySomm

Ask Alexa what wine goes best with what food.

Save the food

Understand how to properly store different foods, decide if they are still fresh and reduce waste.

PRODUCTIVITY

Calculator

Operate this calculator with your voice.

My Calendar

A simple skill that allows you to manage events on your primary calendar.

Remind me

Remind Me helps you remember what you need for work, school, gym, etc.

Talk To Your Email

Ask Alexa about important emails, what’s waiting for your response, clean your inbox, and more.

Taskrabbit

Ask Alexa to find you a handyman, cleaner, and more.

TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT

Airport Security Line Wait Times

Ask Alexa for the estimated wait time information at security checkpoints in over 450 US airports.

Kayak

Get information on flights, hotels and rental cars. Hear flight status updates, destination suggestions and more.

My Eta

Get drive-time in current traffic or any future departure time for your defined destinations.

Virtual Traveler

Wondering where to travel? Discover the most fascinating destinations across the world.

Uber

Ask Alexa to order you an Uber.

ENTERTAINMENT AND LIFESTYLE

7-Minute Workout

Get in shape with Alexa by doing this 7 minute workout.

Board Games Answers

Alexa can answer your common questions about board game rules.

Guitar Tuner

Alexa will help you tune your guitar.

Plex

Get information on and control playback of your media library on any Plex compatible device.

Spotify

Control your Spotify music account using your voice.

CONNECTED HOME

Garageio

Garageio is the simple and secure way to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world, without needing to replace your existing opener.

Harmony

Start and stop Harmony Activities or tune to your favorite TV channel.

Hue

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

Neato

Control your Neato vacuum cleaner with your voice!

Nest

Control the temperature of your house with your voice.

OTHER

Glad Recycler

An easy and entertaining service to help you quickly identify if an item is recyclable.

Skill Finder

Amazon’s Skill Finder is a new way to easily discover Alexa’s newest and top skills.

Sleep And Relaxation Sounds

Ask Alexa to play ambient sounds to help you sleep peacefully or block out unwanted noise at work or home.

Ted Talks

Ask Alexa to play Ted talks.

Zyrtec

Ask Alexa for forecasts concerning weather, pollen count and predominant allergens for your area.

✅A look back on Viva Tech 2017

Viva Tech 2017: Check ✅, and what a great event it was! Three days jam packed with pitches, demos, stimulating exchanges and, of course, innovation, innovation and more innovation! The hype in anticipation for the imminent arrival of internet connected speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa, in France was high, with companies of all sizes wanting to get ahead of the game and discuss how developing a voice application on our platform can propel their business. Here’s a quick look back on the event and what it brought for us!

Smartly AI at Viva Tech 2017
The Smartly AI team were present over the 3 day event, which welcomed more than 50 000 people.

AI takes center stage

The second edition of Viva Technology brought together the very best of tech, uniting established corporations and startups on an international level. Artificial intelligence was one of the major themes at this year’s edition! From robots to chatbots to the predictive applications using big data, AI applications seemed endless. During the event McKinsey revealed the latest results of their study regarding the adoption of artificial intelligence, confirming that AI has indeed broken through into business. Investment in the area is gaining impressive sums of between 20 and 30 billion dollars for a total of 42 acquisitions in 2016, compared to “only” 15 in 2015.

Accor’s Innovation Lab

One sector in particular where AI took centre stage was tourism! Smartly.AI was delighted to be selected to participate in Accor Hotels’ Innovation Lab! This year was the first year that we exhibited at Viva Tech and in addition to showcasing our bot building platform, the event also offered us the opportunity to pitch our solution in front of Accor’s panel of judges and explain how our solution can add new value to AccorHotels’ customer and staff experience!

Smartly AI’s CEO and co-founder, Hicham Tahiri, pitches the solution in front of Accor’s jury

We were also lucky enough to be selected to pitch at the Paris Region, where we illustrated the advantages our solution brings to all sectors! 

Perfect timing for Smartly AI

Google has officially announced the arrival of Google Home in France this summer, and other tech giants have followed suit announcing they will launch their digital voice assistants early next year, all of which is generating a substantial amount of buzz! With the arrival of voice imminent, many companies approached us at the event to discuss the advantages of developing a voice application on our platform. As we have been advocates of voice since 2012, we were delighted to see that it is catching on in our home company and on the verge of sky rocketing!

Smartly AI one of the 50 startups to watch!

Smartly AI was also delighted to be selected by as one of the 50 startups to watch by the Hub Institute!

Thanks to this classification we were able to participate in the innovation tours, organised by HUB institute, and give live demos of our solution to selected major players, from a variety of sectors!

Smartly AI Viva Tech Tour 2017
The Smartly AI Team in action at the Viva Tech Tour, organised by the Hub Institute.

The Smartly AI Team in action at the Viva Tech Tour, organised by the Hub Institute

A big thank you

A big thank you to everyone involved in our participation and the success of this event! Thank you to everyone who called by our stand, took an interest in our platform and exchanged with us! A big thank you also to Accor Hotels, Paris Region and, of course, Hub Institute.

If you didn’t get chance to meet us at the event and want a free demo, get in touch with us and we will organise it ASAP: hello@smartly.ai

See you next year 😉 !

🌳INFOGRAPHIC: World Voice Landscape

The voice ecosystem is booming! In the US alone,  it is estimated that there will be 21.4 million smart speakers by 2020. Furthermore, according to Technavio, by 2019 the voice recognition market will be will be worth a huge $601 million. Voice is even disrupting search, with 60% of people using voice search last year. Technology is finally able to create innovative voice first experiences and an increasing number of consumers are adopting voice technology, which is further pushing innovation within the sector!

This year saw Google launch Google Home, to rival Amazon’s Alexa, as well as other major tech players, such as Orange and Apple, officially annonce the impending arrival of their voice activated speakers! With more and more players entering the voice ecosystem, the scene is getting pretty crowded! We decided to dive deeper into the voice ecosystem and produce this world voice landscape, so you can know who is who in the world of voice!

We have broadly divided our landscape into 4 categories:

  • Major Voice Platforms: Companies that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice.
  • Bot Building Tools: Companies that provide you with the tools you need to create you own voice applications
  • Analytic Tools: Companies that provide you with analytic tools to optimise your voice application
  • Agencies: Companies that create a voice application on your behalf
  • Medias: Companies specialized in voice first news and content

We hope you find this useful, with the rate the industry is expanding, no doubt it will have to be updated soon 😉
If we have missed a company that should be on the voice landscape, please let us know!
If you want to find out about Smartly.AI’s all in one platform for building voice and chat bots, give us a shout at: hello@smartly.ai

 

Update 1 on the 1st September 2017, added: Houndify, Jovo, Future of Voice, VoiceXP, Multiplex, Voicebot.ai, Voice First FM.