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AI in debt collection

AI Awards Interview: How Webio's Conversational AI Delivers Success

Paul Sweeney | Chief Strategy Officer
In the run up to the AI Awards Ireland, Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Sweeney, spoke to Mark Kelly, founder of AI Ireland, about how Webio's conversational AI helps companies engage with their customers about debt and finances with both empathy and efficiency.

Highlights of the Podcast 

Webio's Role in AI - Transforming Credit and Collections Conversations

For people who don't know what Webio does, it is a conversational AI platform that helps companies interact with their customers, predominantly around credit and collections conversations. It assists in collecting money or making arrangements with end users, ranging from utility companies to banks, consumer loans companies to debt collection agencies.

Digital Transformation in Credit and Collections

Webio is part of a movement in the credit and collections business to become digital. The traditional methods of sending letters and making phone calls have evolved, especially during the pandemic, highlighting the need to accelerate the shift from analog to digital. This transformation aims to create a more conversational and empathetic approach, leading to better outcomes for both parties involved.

Challenges in Traditional Collections Conversations

Collections conversations were traditionally tedious and often caused distress for individuals dealing with multiple companies seeking payments. The transformation in this field involves making these interactions more conversational, automating and digitising the process to reduce the mental and emotional burden on customers.

Webio's Goal - Improved Conversations and Outcomes

Webio's goal is to open up conversations on both sides, leading to better outcomes. By making these interactions conversational, companies can reach agreements with customers more effectively, ultimately benefiting both parties. The aim is to create a more efficient and professional process while addressing the economic vulnerabilities of individuals.

Ethics and Responsibility in AI for Financial Insecurity

Webio was a finalist in the AI Awards for the "Best Use Responsible AI & Ethics". Ethical AI in the credit industry is crucial. People can fall into financial insecurity due to various reasons which can cause them to be vulnerable and financially fragile. Considering the empathy-led approach, Webio's conversational platform takes into account various factors to create a digitalised and personalised experience.

Underlying Technology - Conversational Input and Empathy by Design

Webio uses its conversational technology to simplify complex processes like income and expenditure forms. By making these forms conversational, the platform achieves a 60% uplift in form completion and a 52% uplift in payment arrangements. The language used and the tone of messages are important, leading to a 30% uplift in engagement just by changing the tone of the initial message.

Privacy and Empathy by Design

In terms of privacy and empathy by design, Webio has developed its own Natural Language Understanding engine, fine-tuned language models, and a dialogue manager. The platform ensures that data stays within the system, offering control and auditability at every step. The architecture emphasises the importance of having everything in one box for efficient and effective operation.

The AI Ireand Awards 2023, presented by Microsoft, celebrate excellence in data science, machine learning, and AI on the island of Ireland.

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