IBM launches Watson-backed virtual assistant for TD Securities

The IBM tool will be available at the TD Precious Metals digital store.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

IBM unveiled a new AI-based virtual assistant powered by IBM Watson Assistant that is designed to help customers answer crucial questions for customers of TD Securities' precious metals business. 

The company built a virtual agent system for TD Precious Metals digital store. The TD Precious Metals digital store allows customers to digitally purchase physical gold, silver and platinum bullion, and coins. 

The virtual assistant is available now and offers both written responses and links to other guides or FAQs, according to IBM. The virtual assistant is designed to handle frequently asked questions like "How is pricing determined?" "How will items be shipped?" or "Is there a minimum or maximum product count/dollar value when making a purchase?"

"The use of AI to automate tasks can drive greater efficiency and strengthen customer relationships," said Daniel Cascone, financial services sector leader at IBM Canada. "We are working with TD Securities to enrich overall customer experience with the power of innovative technology like conversational AI through the IBM Watson-powered AI virtual assistant."

James Wolanski, a managing director at TD Securities, said their customers are looking for a better digital experience but noted that their TD Precious Metals Support Desk will still be available to those who "may require additional support or a human touch."

TD Securities developed the system in collaboration with commerce and system integration consultants from IBM before integrating it into the store. 

IBM noted that 80% of companies surveyed in its 2021 Global AI Adoption Index said they had plans to roll out some form of automation software over the next 12 months.

Brian Loveys, director of product management at IBM Watson, told ZDNet that they developed the IBM Watson Assistant system after millions of customers reported experiencing what they called "the spiral of misery." 

Customers now have so many options for getting questions answered that it can often feel like they're being bounced around between FAQ pages, search, chatbots, phone calls with an agent, and more. 

"That jeopardizes customer satisfaction and loyalty. To address this, we help businesses organize all of their different customer support options into a single, logical path that is easy for a customer to follow so they don't run into any dead-ends. A great customer care experience should start with automated, self-service support options so that consumers can try to resolve an inquiry on first-contact, via any channel, and seamlessly hand-off to a human customer service agent for the most complex requests," Loveys said. 

"Additionally, there's no guidebook or map that tells a business how to create an exceptional customer experience. To date they've had to do a lot of trial and error when it comes to building virtual assistants, sometimes to the detriment of their end users. We've brought our years of experience working with enterprises and a strong pipeline of AI R&D to Watson Assistant to make it as simple as possible for businesses to build compelling customer experiences, quickly. That includes AI that can handle the nuance and messiness of human language such as handling topic changes, suggesting alternative options, adapting to vague requests, navigating misspellings and misunderstandings, and detecting when a human agent is needed – all right out of the box."

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