Deloitte Digital develops chatbot for swamped pension funds

22 April 2020 2 min. read
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Due to Covid-19 disruption, superannuation funds are being swamped with enquiries. In a rapid response to client demand, Deloitte Digital has managed to develop a ‘Covid-19 Super Bot’ to help funds manage the huge rise in the number of requests coming their way.

For most superannuation funds in Australia, the nature of enquiries flowing in is considerably predictable. But following the Australian government’s recently announced decision that individuals facing financial strain could access up to $20,000 of their superannuation funds, the number of incoming requests has ballooned.

A flurry of activity amongst financially strained Australians has unfolded, most of whom picked up their phone and dialed into their superannuation fund providers, putting the latter under significant strain.

In discussion with AFR, Deloitte Digital Partner Joel Lipman said that superannuation funds are understandably struggling. “I was talking with one of our clients, a larger industry fund, and they were reflecting that [in late March] they had experienced the biggest day ever in terms of member activity in the history of the fund. They just weren’t coping at all. They were inundated and couldn’t answer the number of inquiries.” he said.

Chatbot helping funds with customer requests

This motivated a team at Deloitte Digital – the digital arm of Deloitte Consulting, which in turn is the consultancy division of professional services giant Deloitte – to in “a matter of days” build the Covid-19 Super Bot. The artificial intelligence based platform is built with Google Dialogflow technology that allows for a conversation between a customer and a bot using an input of pre-determined topics.

At present, the bot is equipped with the capability to respond to queries about early access, and can offer factual information in this domain. “If it can save some calls to a contact centre that is fantastic,” said Lipman.

When things get more complex, however, the bot will direct the customer to a human advisor, not due to a lack of capabilities but because the regulations around the use of AI in disseminating ‘personal financial advice’ are strict.

Last month, Virgin Money tapped Deloitte Digital to help it design and launch its own digital bank.

According to Mercer, Australia has the third best pension system in the world.