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The chatty chatbot!

In a highly competitive environment, businesses cannot let queries of customers unanswered for long. Chatbots are the perfect solution to this problem

The chatty chatbot!

I would like to start an STP between two of your funds, can you tell me how to go about it?

Even after supplying all the required data, I could not open an SIP account.... can you help with it?

Most investors have had some problems with their fund houses at some point or the other and may have sent out questions like these. Being a denizen of a digitalised world, it is most likely that you may have conveyed your concerns via chat or email. In all likelihood, you may have received an answer in a day's time, in a few hours or may be in a few minutes.

Till this part, it is very normal, very routine, there are no surprises here. Most professionally run companies will answer your queries at the earliest. The unusual part is that in all probability, it is not a customer service representative but a special kind of robot-- a chatbot who is trying to solve your problems.

Fund houses handle huge volumes of queries on a daily basis. If they were to deal with them manually it would take ages to receive an answer or chances are high that you may never receive one.

In order to reach out to a larger audience and answer the queries of their customers quickly and efficiently financial services industry like mutual funds are riding on the chatbot wave.

A chatbot is a software that automates the task of interacting with people, especially over the internet. Chatbots primarily provide basic support, by answering simple questions like basic product information and share company information. However chatbots can do more. Along with providing useful information, chatbots can ask questions based on the answers provided and start a relevant dialogue with the clients/customers, thereby forging a personal relationship with them.

Fund houses like IDFC AMC, UTI MF, Quantum MF are taking the help of chatbots or in the process of doing so to keep their customers happy.

IDFC Mutual Fund allows existing investors to use 'Ask Bugs', a chat interface, on its website to resolve queries as well as to help in transaction. The 'Ask Bugs' chat service relies on Natural Language Processing (NLP) which has a complex underlying algorithm that emulates human conversation.

Vishal Kapoor, CEO, IDFC AMC said, "Ask Bugs make customer interaction smoother by offering an additional choice of transacting through a chat interface on the IDFC MF website. We believe customers will be more comfortable using simple words rather than remembering pre-defined syntaxes to transact or working through traditional website formats that require site-navigation and selection from drop-down menus."

"With Ask Bugs, existing investors will now have the additional choice of transacting through a chat interface on the IDFC MF website. We believe customers will be more comfortable using simple words rather than remembering pre-defined syntaxes to transact or working through traditional website formats that require site-navigation and selection from drop-down menus."

The Ask Bugs facility is available on both the Desktop and Mobile versions of the IDFC MF website. There is no pre-registration required. The investor needs a PAN and Mobile no. and then based on OTP authentication, a transaction can be completed. Resident individual investors including minors as well as Sole Proprietors can avail of this facility. Investors can use this option for making purchases, redemptions and switches in their folio. Payment can be made using Internet Banking, UPI or the bank One Time Mandate.

UTI Mutual Fund has launched chatbot, which is available on Facebook Messenger. New and old investors can make a query on the chatbot. Existing investors can even invest with the chatbot feature. These will be secure, real time transactions with multiple payment options available at any time of the day or night.

Other fund houses are also keeping their options open about this interactive software. They are testing the waters before going for a full fledged launch.

"We are keeping an eye on chatbot adoption and continuously evaluating options in the space," says Santosh Navlani, Senior Vice President, DSP BlackRock Investment Managers Pvt. Ltd.

A Quantum MF official said, the fund house is very keen to introduce chatbots and is in the planning stages. "We will be launching it very soon", the official said on conditions of anonymity.

Similarly, Essel MF is also in the process of introducing this software in an effort to make customer interaction more effective and personalised.