Around the globe, banks are deploying robots in their branches. Emirates NBD have just announced plans to roll out a new artificial intelligence robot to glide through their foyers, greeting customers and assisting with their products and services. But what long-term purpose will these new customer service technologies provide? Will we see a push towards more efficient branches, or will they undermine the human touch that branch users desire when they choose to walk into a brick-and-mortar location?
Back in 2010, Santander were possibly the first financial institution to deploy customer service robots to guide visitors around their headquarters. Fast forward to today, and the technology has accelerated away from the simple GPS-guided droids.
“Pepper”, the human-like robot developed by the French company Aldebaran Robotics, has been chosen by Emirates due to it’s remarkable innovations in human speech and mood recognition. Capable of interpreting a smile, a frown, your tone of voice, and even the angle of your head, the robots can provide an uncanny ability to serve customers. Pepper weighs in at about 30 kilograms, and incorporates a tablet-style touchscreen for additional input for visitors to interact with. “She” runs for around 12 hours non-stop on a lithium-ion battery, and has RGB cameras and 3D sensors to accurately map the surrounding environment. First deployed by the Mizuho Financial Group in Japan, Pepper has been proven to be an interesting addition for banking customers.
“Pepper gets people excited about going to the bank”, says Tetsuhiko Saito, the head of personal banking in Mizuho’s main lending unit. They are looking towards rolling out up to five more Pepper units at branches throughout Tokyo.
We may be seeing a positive step towards technology augmenting the banking experience for the better, so long as a focus on customer service is maintained over the glitz and gimmick element that many new technologies also embody. While time will tell which way it heads, one thing can be counted on - the automation of the customer service sector is well and truly here.
Find out more about Pepper, and Emirates NBD’s goals for the future at The Financial Brand