On the second night working from home, an IBM representative called Beatty to discuss enhancing the lender's ongoing project: an artificial intelligence chatbot named Nanci.
Nanci — whose name is derived from "financial" in the lender's title — was developed in partnership with IBM Services through its Watson Assistant program and has been functional on the company's site for almost a year. It could manage 10 to 15 percent of the 230,000 online customer messages the lender received per month.
IBM offered to augment Nanci's programming so it could handle more customer messages.
"He said, 'We have a team for you. They can be working through the day and through the night to get Nanci smarter,' " Beatty said.
For days, the four-person GM Financial team worked long hours with IBM to increase Nanci's abilities. The process involved programming intents to ensure the virtual agent recognizes a customer concern and has the training to resolve it.
Nanci proved to be a saving grace.
By mid-April, Nanci tackled half of the customer messages sent to GM Financial, resolving 90 percent of those queries without intervention from a human representative. GM Financial employees handled the remaining messages, and answered the average 350,000 phone calls per month the lender received. The next phase of the program is to give Nanci a voice so she can answer phone calls as well.
With each new intent added to the chatbot, "That was another 100 customers that didn't have to go to a team member," Beatty said. "I don't know what we would have done without Nanci."