FINA Created an AI Driven Virtual Assistant to Enhance Customer Service

Imagine you are the owner of a coffee shop or maybe a CEO of the largest retail company in Croatia? No matter who you are, you are likely among 44 000 companies which make payments over FINA's service e-invoice.

Why does this matter? We all know the expression "money makes the world go round" but it's more important how we ensure the flow of that money, ie how FINA ensures smooth, efficient and flexible payment processes to allow the companies and the employees both from enterprises and small and medium size companies to successfully operate, serve its clients and stay competitive.

In today's digital landscape, in order to make the above an imperative, we need to use a digital-first approach and integrate the most advanced technologies like AI, cloud, blockchain at the hearth of our business and development strategies as soon as possible. For financial institutions, the need to act quickly is even bigger as those organizations all over the world need to tackle a sea change in their industry, ranging from the rising regulatory pressures, competition from non-traditional sources, more savvy customer expectations, managing the legacy infrastructure.

According to IDC ( ), the companies will invest over $265 billion worldwide in new intelligence technologies by 2023 while AI will be imminent ( ) by 2025. In addition, it is clear that we will also see a new wave of digital transformation as organizations will need to adopt new approaches and principles to navigate this new reality.

FINA is the leading Croatian provider of financial and electronic services. National coverage, an IT system tested on the most demanding jobs of national importance, and the professionalism of expert teams enable the preparation and implementation of various projects, from simple financial transactions to the most sophisticated e-commerce jobs.

In order to enhance customer experience and meet their growing demand for online services, the company decided to introduce an online assistant in Croatian language to serve clients 24/7. In this regard, the beginning of 2020 was a milestone for them. They have partnered with IBM and created an AI bot called “FINA virtual assistant“ powered by IBM Watson Assistant on the IBM public cloud.

FINA started with implementing new offerings in the Commercial digital solutions sector, which is responsible for e-invoice operations as demand in this segment was the highest. In addition, FINA wanted to reduce the pressure from its employees in the call center. This was a completely new business and technical experience for them, whereby it was necessary to master a completely new paradigm of system development and to solve specific problems. They have completely succeeded in that task primary on the basis of available IBM Watson Assistant ( ) documentation and examples.

Today, all their clients that use e-invoice service for business clients and e-invoice for public procurement are able to interact with FINA's virtual assistant and get the answers on their questions in natural language about e-invoice service (B2B, B2G). This way they have increased the speed of the service and we are offering improved level of personalization to each client. During the design stages of the project, FINA's experts trained the system with more than 130 intents which define the goal and the intent of the questions. This was a great journey for their technical team.

IBM Watson Assistant ( ) on the IBM public cloud is a transformative technology, it’s easy to use tool which makes integration and development easy while at the same time delivers an interactive experience. IBM Watson Assistant offers quality user analytics for closely monitoring how AI bot is performing, but for their specific needs they have additionally developed own conversation analytics solution and custom channel integration. FINA is committed to continually improve service and to leverage other APIs on IBM Cloud to offer the first class experience to customers.

In the past three months, since the virtual assistant was implemented, almost 4000 conversations have been performed by “FINA virtual assistant”. Nearly 30 % of these conversations take place outside traditional working hours which shows strong demand for a continuous service. After this very successful initial project, they are just beginning to apply AI into new areas of business to bring even more efficiency and effectiveness to services on the benefit of customers.

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