Home Artificial Intelligence OCBC’s latest generative AI chatbot is boosting the bank’s productivity across departments and locations

OCBC’s latest generative AI chatbot is boosting the bank’s productivity across departments and locations

OCBC’s latest generative AI chatbot is boosting the bank’s productivity across departments and locations

In her job at OCBC’s contact center in Singapore, Denise Law must reply to what are sometimes convoluted, lengthy emails from customers. 

Sifting through those emails, determining what customers need and writing effective responses can take considerable time for Law, who also manages the middle’s chatbot for private banking inquiries.  

That work has gotten a little bit easier recently with the assistance of a generative AI chatbot OCBC has been piloting with its employees that enables them to ask questions and get help with every thing from communications to coding. The tool will likely be rolled out bank-wide in November.  

Law has been using the chatbot to quickly discover what customers are asking for of their emails — how one can check a bank balance or get a fee waiver, for instance — and supply answers. If she’s not satisfied with the response, she will be able to ask the chatbot to give you a more succinct or empathetic answer. 

“It helps me to interrupt down the sentences and the questions and craft the response to best help the shopper,” Law said. “I can actually give instruction on how I would like the response to be improved so it doesn’t sound like a robotic reply.”  

Law also uses the tool to refine answers to FAQs for the bank’s personal banking customer support chatbot on the company website, translate the occasional Chinese word she isn’t aware of and draft responses to customer complaints that might be utilized by her colleagues as templates. The tool saves time, she says, and has improved communication with customers.  

“It’s very fast and it could generate the responses quickly,” Law said. “That enables me to administer more interactions and in addition ensures consistency in responses, which ultimately results in enhanced customer support.” 

‘Interesting use cases’ 

Singapore is an Asian financial hub and OCBC is the island state’s second biggest bank by assets.   

OCBC decided to develop the tool around March 2023, about 4 months after the launch of ChatGPT, OpenAI’s large language model-based chatbot. Like people worldwide, the bank’s employees were intrigued by ChatGPT, and senior leaders saw potential for the technology to assist them of their day by day work.  

“We took an exploratory approach to grasp the capabilities and risks of ChatGPT — wanting to see if we could harness its advantages in a protected and secure environment,” said Bryan Lee, managing director of Group Technology Architecture at OCBC. 

Portrait of a man standing in front of a red OCBC logo
Bryan Lee, managing director of Group Technology Architecture at OCBC. Photo by Ore Huiying for Microsoft.

OCBC built the chatbot in its private Microsoft Azure environment, which provides access to OpenAI’s models, including ChatGPT, together with Azure’s infrastructure and security. Since a lot of the bank’s employees were already using Microsoft Teams, the bank opted to embed the chatbot in Teams’ secure and controlled environment, with risk controls in place built by an in-house engineering team, Lee said.  

After an initial proof of concept phase, the corporate introduced the tool at an internal event in May, where around 200 employees asked to join the next pilot. Because the pilot got underway over the following few months, OCBC and Bank of Singapore employees across departments and locations — from Singapore to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia — eagerly got onboard. Bank of Singapore is OCBC’s private banking subsidiary. By September, near 1,000 employees were using the chatbot regularly, Lee said.  

The corporate trained employees on how one can use the chatbot and commenced holding workshops for people to share their experiences with it. The group leading the project had envisioned the technology getting used primarily to generate content and help with coding, Lee said, but employees quickly found other uses to assist them of their day by day tasks.  

Front office managers were using the chatbot to research various sorts of industries to raised connect with their clients. Contact center employees used it to summarize calls from customers and discover key issues. Marketing and communications teams were using the tool to create content for newsletters, and human resources staff tapped it to create job description templates.  

A woman seated at a table, working on her laptop
Megan Wong, business manager on the Bank of Singapore, says the brand new chatbot is a time-saver. Photo by Ore Huiying for Microsoft.

“They got here back with plenty of interesting use cases that we were just very surprised by,” Lee said. 

Megan Wong, business manager at Bank of Singapore, enthusiastically signed on for the proof of concept testing as soon as her manager told her about it. Wong has used the chatbot to summarize large documents into key points, draft email invites for client events and give you campaign names for an internal presentation.  

“Sometimes attempting to be creative isn’t really easy, but this technology gives you ideas,” Wong said. “It saves my time attempting to give you something fancy. It will possibly generate more options higher and faster than I can.” 

An AI evolution 

OCBC was an early adopter of analytics and AI capabilities, creating its first analytics team within the late Nineteen Nineties and hiring Donald MacDonald, now head of its Group Data Office, in 2004 to develop the bank’s marketing analytics infrastructure. 

Back then, MacDonald said, analytics was largely focused on consumer banking. As OCBC built up its infrastructure through the years, it began applying analytics and AI to other areas of the organization, comparable to corporate banking, compliance and operations.  

OCBC’s use of AI and machine learning reached an inflection point about five years ago, MacDonald said, as growth and adoption of those technologies accelerated. The bank developed a chatbot for customer support inquiries and one other chatbot named Buddy to assist employees with HR-related issues. It launched programs to develop digital skills in employees and commenced providing postgraduate AI scholarships 

Then in 2018, OCBC established an AI lab to develop in-house AI capabilities, becoming the primary bank in Singapore to accomplish that. 

Portrait of a man seated at a table
Donald MacDonald, head of OCBC’s Group Data Office. Photo by Ore Huiying for Microsoft.

“We began the lab with just three people,” MacDonald said, “but it surely in a short time got plenty of traction because we were capable of transcend marketing analytics, which was really our core competency before, and begin working on areas like financial crime and fraud detection and generate some very impressive advantages.”  

For instance, the bank’s anti-money laundering efforts previously used a system that may generate greater than 10,000 alerts a month. Investigators would spend about 45 minutes reviewing each alert, MacDonald said, and the bulk were false positives. The bank developed an AI model that prioritizes alerts and routinely closes or hibernates lower-risk ones.  

Over the past yr, MacDonald said, OCBC has focused increasingly on generative AI to enhance worker productivity. The bank’s OCBC Wingman tool, launched in May 2023, helps developers by tracking code as they write it and routinely generating additional lines of code — boosting productivity by an estimated 20 to 30%, MacDonald said. Generative AI can be being trialed on the bank’s contact center to summarize and transcribe sales calls, saving employees from having to take heed to lots of of calls day by day to discover sales anomalies.  

Similarly, MacDonald said, the brand new generative AI tool helps employees across departments to be more productive and improve customer experiences. Contact center employees typically take a training course to develop into certified letter writers, he said, but tests showed that the tool could provide a useful first draft that a licensed author can then refine as needed.  

“I feel that’s an ideal example of where it just makes people more productive at what they were already doing,” MacDonald said. “It’s a tool that’s very flexible and might handle a wide selection of use cases.” 

Employees appear to agree — a recent survey of pilot participants found that 93% were satisfied with the chatbot overall and 72% reported productivity improvements since they began using it.  

The query he gets most frequently from employees in regards to the chatbot, MacDonald said, is when it would be available to them.  

“Persons are really looking forward to getting it and are excited by it, which is implausible.” 


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