Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HLB

Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HLB showing off HALI. Source: Hong Leong Bank

Can’t afford AI? A chatbot might be a good start

WHAT does the Google Assistant and Waymo have in common? They both run on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Very different sorts of AI, but AI nonetheless.

Not every company can pour in the money to build its own AI. One of the more affordable implementations today are chatbots – which not only help companies experience the power of AI but also help them gauge its potential.

Malaysia based Hong Leong Bank, for example, introduced its HALI chatbot recently with hopes of the product boosting workforce capabilities by 60 percent.

HALI is designed to assist two core functions: Human Resource and Branch Operations. It will primarily answer questions about policies and procedures around medical benefits, staff loans, leave policy, and payroll among other staff related issues.

Chatbots have an advantage over human staff as they are accessible 24/7 which makes life easier for employees.

They can also assist with repetitive and manual operations such as generic email responses and internal telephone inquiries. Hong Leong’s chatbot is available to employees on their smartphones and tablet devices.

According to a statement by Hong Leong, the Bank hopes to leverage chatbots to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce turnaround time, and improve overall compliance with policies and processes.

Domenic Fuda, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of HLB, said: “HALI has allowed us to automate time-consuming and routine tasks. This allows our staff to focus on greater productivity and efficiency towards improving the overall customer experience. Innovative digital initiatives such as this will help us create a more engaging and rewarding employee experience.”

The AI learns and improves efficiency by automating thousands of queries asked every month by bank staff. Through the data collected by HALI, the bank will be able to spend more time building relevant training programs.

Hong Leong isn’t the first bank to adopt chatbots for their systems. Back in 2016, Malaysian bank CIMB rolled out EVA, its Enhanced Virtual Assistant. Instead of being operations focused, CIMB’s EVA is consumer-facing and allows customers to chat with an AI bot for performing banking tasks, including checking bank balances, paying bills, and reloading prepaid phones.

On the operations side of things, insurance company AIA launched “Ask Sara” in December last year. Similar to Hong Leong Bank, Sara was designed to help provide insurance agents with real-time answers to inquiries regardless of the time of day via Facebook Messenger.