AI-powered virtual assistant by Glia transforms banking by phone and online


‘I lost my wallet in a cab last night’ and ‘What is my routing info?’

The answers came back quickly and accurately during a demonstration of the AI-powered attendant by digital customer service firm Glia.

Talking to this artificially intelligent banking virtual assistant felt a lot more natural than using the touch-tone menus that have been in place for decades now. Pressing numbers aren’t required here.

“I’m a virtual assistant here to assist with your banking needs. I can answer hundreds of questions, ask me a question to get started,” said a voice recognizable as a virtual entity – dare I say much like HAL 9000 from the classic science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey? – but much more nimble in its answers.

Jake Tyler of Glia
Glia’s Jake Tyler

“You’re meant to know that it’s a virtual assistant, but it is faster to respond. You can be very granular in your questions,” said Jake Tyler, Glia’s virtual assistant expert whose team has been at work developing the firm’s AI voice component over the last six-plus years. “You can say things the way that you normally would say them, so if you ask a question — even if you’re a little bit anxious and frustrated, such as when you’ve lost your wallet — it will understand you. If you want to talk to an agent, you simply ask. When the virtual assistant hands you off, the agent gets the full context of the conversation.”

AI rules in the imaginations of much of the world today, particularly in how humans can interact with virtual entities like those we’ve seen with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and Microsoft AI/Windows Copilot. How AI can transform fintech and the financial sector is top of mind for many organizations, too. Generative AI, however, poses a challenge, as financial institutions need to provide highly reliable, verified information, as opposed to something generated on the fly. To address this challenge, Glia recently introduced advancements to its online and phone products for banks and credit unions.

Virtual assistants extended to phone calls

City Bank, a regional bank with 25 branches in Texas and New Mexico that holds $4 billion in total assets, is happy with Glia’s “best in breed” chat solution, says strategic innovation officer Justin Knowles.

“It’s very good at pulling information that we’ve pre-approved and plugged into the virtual assistant or pulling information from our website from a deep link or something that we’ve connected,” Knowles said from Lubbock, Texas, where the bank is headquartered.

Now, Glia’s voice banking solution extends its Al-powered virtual assistants to banking customer phone calls. It replaces touch-tone, menu-based interactive voice response technology that’s been in place in most bank and credit union systems since the previous century.

“The phones have changed, but the automated call-center product hasn’t. What we can do is replace that touch-tone IVR for the phone, in particular, with an AI-powered assistant,” said Tyler. “You can speak to it using natural language, not just keywords. You just say whatever you want it to do in your own words.

“Phone banking with touch-tone IVRs was built in the 1990s. They haven’t really changed since then. You’ve probably called up and used an IVR recently, and I’ll bet you didn’t leave thinking that was an awesome product for 2023. You were probably thinking ‘I could have done that on my Nokia 3310.'”

AI-trained solution ready to use out of the box

Organizations using the voice-enabled Glia Virtual Assistant (GVA) solution can implement it right away, with virtual assistants already trained to handle 800-plus scenarios common to all banks and credit unions.

Savings realized by reductions in wait times and by containment of customer engagements can drastically improve resolution times and ultimately lower costs. Use of voice GVAs has seen Glia customers reduce their average wait and handle times by 80 percent and increase customer containment by more than 50 percent.

Tyler says the Glia team has found that banking phone agents end up spending a significant amount of time on routine tasks.

“They don’t have enough time to spend on critical, challenging tasks that are more the moments of truth, the moments where real brand relationship equity is built,” said Tyler. “We can help to automate these routine tasks … Automation is an important leg of this platform. Across any channel that we’re interacting with — phone, online banking, mobile banking — financial institutions can have AI that’s automating routine interactions.

“That’s the goal of our virtual assistant: to use AI to automate routine interactions, and free up agent time to seamlessly hand off more complex, challenging, critical and emotional interactions to human agents.”

Tyler says they recognize some banking customers prefer to speak to a representative. Glia’s option for virtual assistants from a financial institution’s online service to transfer effortlessly to a live representative allows for a seamless, consistent experience.

“It’s a pre-integrated solution built specifically for banks and credit unions,” he said. “What we see is that the types of questions customers ask their financial institution are the same. There’s a strong overlap. We build one AI model that works for all banks and credit unions. That means the next bank and credit union that uses it doesn’t have to build much. They’re using something that already exists.

“They’re configuring it for their product information, but it’s a much faster, simpler build and setup as well as maintenance process.”

The automated voice banking solution is available as part of Glia’s AI-powered virtual assistant offerings. Explore how Glia Virtual Assistants can enhance your services.

  • Craig Ellingson

    Craig is a freelance writer and editor. He has toiled in various positions for various newspapers in Western Canada, including the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald.

    When he’s not busy fixing his home, you can find him experimenting with his slow cooker, finding the right grind (and coffee bean) for his AeroPress, reading fiction and non-fiction, mulling over director Ingmar Bergman’s works, and practicing his backward crossovers (both sides!) while ice skating.