Kazakh-Speaking Voice Assistant Fields 26% of Sberbank Customer Calls
More than a quarter of inquiries to Russian finance and tech giant Sberbank Kazakhstani call center are handled by a bilingual voice assistant named Sabina. The Russian and Kazakh-speaking voice AI handles transactions and inquiries, building on technology developed by the Speech Technology Center (also known as SpeechPro), a biometrics and AI company spun out of the Soviet KGB that Sberbank acquired a controlling interest in a few years ago.
Сабина банкир (Sabina the Banker)
Sabina’s name comes from the System Artificial Bank Intelligence (SABI) technology used to run the AI. First unveiled last summer at the Kazakh call center, Sabina now accounts for up to 26% less work for the employees. The AI answers questions and carries out transactions upon voice or text request. The AI can complete deposits and transfers, explain bank services and products, and even start a loan process. Sabina’s very human-like voice is a product of the Speech Technology Center, which created both Russian and Kazakh language models to interact with customers depending on which language they prefer to speak.
“There has been a significant increase in the share of customers who used the voice robot’s services. This was enabled, in particular, by the quality of synthesized speech powered by the solutions from the Speech Technology Center, as the robot’s voice is hardly distinguishable from the voice of a human operator,” Sberbank Kazakhstan deputy chairman Yernar Nakisbekov said in a statement. “These solutions allow the robot to quickly explore the digital landscape and instantly provide users with relevant responses. The key benefit of collaboration with the Speech Technology Center is the ability to integrate a whole stack of AI solutions from a single vendor with a wealth of experience in enterprise-level projects: this ensures the quality of the products and their ability to smoothly integrate with one another.”
Sberbank is one of Russia’s largest banking institutions but has heavily invested in becoming a tech and AI company. Late last year saw the launch of the SberPortal smart display and the SberBox TV set-top streaming device to kick off the new direction. The new hardware users with Sber’s Salute voice assistant, which includes three personalities. Sber’s majority owner is the Russian government, which is backing the shift, judging from Russian president Vladimir Putin’s appearance at Sber’s AI conference in December and the creation of Russia’s first Artificial Intelligence Institute in Moscow. The conference is also where Sber announced its plans for an enterprise voice AI platform.
Though Sabina may not be directly related, what Sber is testing at the call center could end up applying to its other endeavors as well. Sberbank divided the tasks it wants Sabina to accomplish into three stages. The first stage is complete and enables answers to general bank questions. The next stage is the payments and transfers, relying on voice biometrics to help ascertain a customer’s identity. That facet is rolling out now. The next upgrade will personalize the experience even more, with Sabina learning from previous calls to anticipate customer behavior and make suggestions based on a behavior model.
“Sabina’s advantage lies in the prospects for integration with customer speech analytics, lead generation and auto-call systems, which will allow the robot to generate a customer profile based on prior communication experience and will enable personalized communication based on a knowledge of customer preferences. The robot can use the answers collected for self-training to improve each subsequent dialogue,” Speech Technology Сenter CEO Dmitriy Dyrmovskiy said in a statement. “Our algorithms allow speech to be recognized and synthesized, 100% of customer-operator dialogues to be analyzed, the key reasons for calls to be identified and 90% of standard questions to be answered automatically, without the need to involve any human resources.”