Financial giant AMP is dipping its toe into virtual technology and has begun testing an online chatbot platform from fintech Flamingo as it joins the sector-wide push to try to convert website visitors into committed customers.
After signing a proof of concept in December last year, AMP is trialling Flamingo’s Cognitive Virtual Assistant platform for its Flexible Super superannuation product.
“We are trialling the latest technology to ensure our interaction with customers through our online support platforms is best practice,” an AMP spokesman told The Australian Financial Review.
Flamingo, which was founded by Sydneysider Catriona Wallace in 2014, said that its virtual assistant platform, dubbed Rosie, was a way for financial institutions to assist and retain customers or potential customers as they consider which “complex financial products” were right for them.
“It is an artificial intelligence engine that guides customers through their financial services product purchase, or through onboarding or inquiries,” said Ms Wallace, who is also Flamingo’s chief executive.
According to a research conducted by Fifth Quadrant and commissioned by Flamingo, while 77 per cent of people are comfortable to very comfortable with the concept of using chatbots when interacting with organisations, early generation online customer assistance tools have rated poorly for “conversions”.
Ms Wallace said that 2017 would be the year of artificial intelligence and “bot strategy”, and would see more financial service institutions experimenting and testing.
“We are focused on helping these businesses increase their online sales conversion rates and currently for most of these companies in Australia and the US, their conversion rates for selling retirement products and insurance online is about 1-2 per cent, so it’s very low. We’re typically tasked with doubling that,” she said.
Ms Wallace said further that it was impossible for financial companies to “improve customer experience, increase sales and reduce cost” without artificial intelligence or machine learning.
“We have some great US-based conversion rates, where we’ve demonstrated that we can significantly improve the conversion rate. And if companies use intelligent assistants for sales and for onboarding, the metrics there are a 30 per cent reduction of calls into call centres,” she said.
“The brief we get from executives … is that they’ve been tasked with improving growth or online sales rates.”
Flamingo on rise
This “testing period” deal with AMP comes in the wake of Flamingo’s ASX-debut in November last year, following a reverse takeover of ASX-listed Cre8tk. The fintech start-up was acquired by Cre8tk in June 2016.
The stock has risen from 4.1¢ to 8.9¢ since listing.
Ms Wallace told the Financial Review in October that two-thirds of the $3 million raised would be spent increasing Rosie’s machine learning capabilities, including the hiring of two more data scientists to work under chief data scientist Jack Elliott. The remaining $1 million would cultivate “channel partners”.
While listed on the ASX, Flamingo became a US company in 2015 as a way to more easily gain a piece of that lucrative market, and counts Fortune 200 companies, many of them insurers, as its clients.
In November last year Flamingo implemented its platform in $40 billion US business Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and said at the time that it had ” a substantial sales pipeline in the US … and the US market remains the key focus for the business with a focus on insurance companies”.
Ms Wallace said that there was a lot of interest from the insurance sector.
“Analysts predict that insurance is in the top three of industries that will have a high level of automation,” she said. More