RBS introduces robot Luvo to answer customers' phone queries
Bank customers stuck queuing on the telephone may have a saviour - a robot named Luvo.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has turned to the world of 'human artificial intelligence' to tackle the backlog of calls which can leave customers frustrated.
The AI system - which has a human-like personality - will help staff answer customer questions more quickly by supplying "huge amounts of information" in seconds, the lender said.
It will then talk through the answer with the member of staff on a web chat system, or pass the question on to someone else in the team who can solve more difficult problems.
The bank is also investigating whether to cut out the middle man and let Luvo interact directly with customers, if a small number of trials prove successful.
RBS - which is 73% owned by the taxpayer - said the AI has a " unique psychological profile" and a "warmth" to its personality, which is approachable, creative and uses intuition and reasoning when answering questions.
But it said the move was not a step towards cutting jobs, but was being rolled out to help staff improve customer service.
Simon McNamara, RBS chief administrative officer, said: " Luvo is a really exciting new technology that brings artificial intelligence to life and will help our staff serve customers better by resolving their questions and problems much more quickly.
"Its potential is huge and we'll be exploring if Luvo could talk to customers directly to answer straightforward questions, freeing up time for our staff to answer complex issues."
The decision to introduce AI comes after RBS piloted Luvo with 1,200 staff who manage relationships with small businesses.
The questions Luvo can answer with staff include: m y customer has lost their card - what steps do they need to take now? My customer has locked their PIN - how do they unlock it? And h ow do I order a card-reader for my customer?
RBS announced its eighth year of annual losses last month when it posted a deficit of £2 billion, although this is down on the £3.5 billion reported a year earlier.