Standard Life, a 190-year-old long-term savings and investment business in charge of £300 billion, is considering how it can use robots to answer customer queries on their pension schemes.
The Edinburgh-headquartered company employs 6,000 people worldwide but until now robots haven’t really been on its radar.
Customers that call up Standard Life today are put through to an actual person, but advances in artificial intelligence (AI) systems have caught the eye of Stephen Ingledew, the managing director of Standard Life’s marketing business.
Ingledew, who has been tasked with improving engagement between Standard Life and its customers, told Business Insider on Tuesday that demand on Standard Life’s telephone lines is increasing and as a result, the company must adapt.
“One of the areas we’re exploring at the moment is around artificial intelligence,” he said at the company’s office on the 34th floor of the Gherkin skyscraper in London. “I’ve got a number of ideas that we’re going to explore.
“So either we just scale up the telephone resource or focus on the actual areas where you need the human and you bring in artificial intelligence to help the customers in the other areas.”
A report from the World Economic Forum said robots, automation, and AI will replace five million human jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020.
Ingledew said he envisages Standard Life AIs having a “conversation” with customers as opposed to just directing them through a call menu.
He added: “At the moment we’re blending online with telephone. For me the third part of it really is the artificial intelligence.”
On the downsides of AI, Ingledew conceded that the technology only goes so far at the moment. He also said Standard Life would have to trial the technology with some of its older customers before rolling it out to everyone. “We’ve got to test how open and receptive people in their fifties will be,” he said.
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