The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is delving into the cutting-edge world of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) to develop “synthetic customers” capable of emulating human behavior. These synthetic agents, powered by GenAI chatbots, aim to assist in testing the response to new products and services. CBA’s Chief Decision Scientist, Dan Jermyn, discussed this innovative approach during his presentation at the South by Southwest conference in Sydney.
Leveraging generative AI for customer understanding
Generative AI represents a leap forward in the capabilities of machines to process, interpret patterns, and create new outputs. CBA sees the potential of this advanced technology in the creation of customer personas or “synthetic agents.” These GenAI chatbots can act as invaluable tools for early experimentation, offering a deeper understanding of customer responses to changing contexts, everyday financial challenges, and novel products.
Jermyn highlighted the overarching goal of this initiative, stating, “By drawing on simulated experiences of daily life to emulate behaviors, we’re testing whether these GenAI chatbots could provide qualitative and quantitative understanding of how customers might respond to changing contexts, everyday financial challenges, and new products.”
Accelerating product development
One of the primary motivations behind CBA’s exploration of synthetic customers through GenAI is to expedite the process of delivering better products and services to customers. By leveraging this technology, the bank seeks to gain valuable insights into customer preferences and needs, enabling them to refine their offerings more efficiently.
Jermyn emphasized, “This technology ultimately could help the bank to get a better product or service in front of customers earlier.”
Simulating responses in challenging situations
CBA’s initiative is poised to revolutionize the way customer responses are studied, particularly in challenging situations where traditional customer research methods may fall short. The project aims to harness GenAI to understand customer behavior during natural disasters and other challenging circumstances.
“We’re looking at harnessing GenAI to understand what products and services may be most needed during different types of natural disasters by simulating the actions and needs of customers during these difficult times,” Jermyn stated. “We are also looking at how we can use GenAI to better understand what messaging would be most effective for helping customers in vulnerable situations – such as when customers are potentially being scammed, or when they experience a loss in the family.”
Building on Behavioral Science
The foundation of this ambitious project rests on the extensive knowledge gleaned from behavioral science studies conducted over the past 40 years. CBA’s team comprises AI experts and behavioral scientists who are collaborating to harness the power of GenAI effectively.
By merging the insights from behavioral science with the capabilities of Generative AI, CBA is poised to gain unprecedented insights into customer behavior, preferences, and reactions.
As CBA continues to explore the potential of synthetic customers powered by GenAI, the financial institution anticipates that this technology will become an integral part of their innovation and product development process. By staying at the forefront of AI-driven solutions, CBA aims to enhance customer experiences and deliver tailored financial solutions more effectively.
This pioneering approach not only showcases CBA’s commitment to innovation but also underscores the growing significance of AI in the banking and financial sector. The utilization of GenAI to create synthetic customers represents a leap forward in understanding and serving the diverse needs of customers in an ever-evolving landscape.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s foray into Generative AI and synthetic customers heralds a new era of customer-centric innovation in the banking industry. This bold initiative is set to redefine the way financial institutions approach product development, customer research, and personalized service delivery. As technology continues to evolve, CBA’s commitment to staying at the forefront of AI-driven solutions ensures a promising future for both the bank and its customers.