Virtual agent Amelia answers Credit Suisse’s call for tech support
Credit Suisse has recruited New York-based artificial intelligence (AI) tech vendor IPSoft for a “pioneering development” – an “in-house virtual agent who helps thousands of employees with day-to-day tech problems”.
The virtual agent – Amelia – is not just smart, says Credit Suisse, “but also has some human qualities such as emotional awareness. For example, Amelia perceives when people are irritated or frustrated.”
Amelia was launched into live production at Credit Suisse’s global IT service desk at the end of last year, and is set to handle nearly half of all requests from the bank’s employees, from routine level-one issues (e.g. email is stuck, password needs resetting, Wifi will not work, rebooting your machine) to more complex level-three incidents and resolve them from end to end.
Amelia seamlessly integrates into multiple desktop applications, Blackberry engines and knowledge management systems.
It is understood that by the end of the pilot programme at Credit Suisse, Amelia reached a high of 87% accuracy during conversations.
To “educate” Amelia, Credit Suisse created an in-house team. “First she needed to understand what people are saying. Car park or parking lot, lift or elevator, rubber or eraser: YOU know they are the same things, but Amelia has to be taught,” the bank explains.
“Next she learned to diagnose a problem, to decide whether it is something she can fix, and if not, hand over to a human colleague – so she must be familiar with the processes and systems in our business. Oh, and she has to avoid irritating the people seeking IT support – there is actually an algorithm for that. All along, Amelia learns how to do new things, mostly by watching how humans do them.”
Amelia is there 24×7, every day of the year – no breaks or holidays.
Requests come to her via text, in English, from anywhere, and she responds “fluently and naturally, in human style”, the bank says. E.g. “Have you tried turning it off and on again? Would you like me to reset your password?”
Credit Suisse emphasises that IT support from humans is “still very much needed” as Amelia cannot fix everything –“not by a long shot”.
“But what Amelia can fix, she fixes quicker than ever before. And she is always available, no waiting required – which is critical, because users are very sensitive to wait-times for IT help, and they always welcome a quicker response.”
The bank says the response to Amelia among its employees have been varied and “typically human”: some people were thrilled, some unimpressed and some annoyed. But the IT support team has welcomed her onboard. “They have long tired of telling people to reboot; they prefer to tackle more difficult problems,” the bank explains.
In time, Credit Suisse hopes the virtual agent will evolve to solve more complex problems and learn to speak other languages.
Some of future plans for Amelia beyond supporting a global IT service desk include a role on the trading floor, helping audit and compliance teams out. Typically, it takes a qualified trader 20 minutes to complete a trade, but Amelia could potentially help bring this time down to just two minutes.