Explore Mar 10, 2019

Proactivity, Personalization and the Future of the Intelligent Assistant

Advances in conversational AI and digital technologies have opened up the ability to provide new kinds of value to customers.  

Two years ago at SXSW, we introduced Eno, your intelligent assistant from Capital One, through a small, invite-only pilot with a couple thousand customers.

As you can see, we were a little excited to introduce Eno to the world.

Since then, Eno’s intelligence, capabilities, and adoption has rapidly scaled. Today, Eno serves as the intelligent backbone behind Capital One’s digital customer experiences, helping millions of customers every day to have more confidence and control over their financial lives, to get more out of their money, and to get time back to spend on the things they really love.

As we celebrate Eno’s second birthday this month, the design, engineering and product development team behind Eno returned to Austin to share insights and lessons learned from the multi-year product development journey.

As you can see, we’re still excited about the potential Eno has to help our customers.

It’s a good moment to reflect on what we’ve learned from Eno’s evolution and what the road ahead looks like for Eno and the future of intelligent assistants more broadly.

As the team has worked to evolve Eno’s capabilities, we’ve remain focused on a core vision and purpose. What is central to our mission and what motivates us every day is that we have both the opportunity and responsibility to harness data and technology in ways that benefit people. That means building products and experiences that improve people’s financial lives - saving them time, money, and helping to inspire a sense of optimism about the future, every day.

Advances in conversational AI, digital technologies, machine learning and real-time analytics have opened up the ability to provide new kinds of value to customers.  

This requires us to reframe how we view the role of digital assistants in people’s lives.

Power of Proactivity

Most digital assistants, today, are largely reactive. You think of a task you’d like performed, you ask the assistant to perform that task, and the assistant in turn fulfills the request. That’s incredibly helpful for simple needs like playing music, setting alarms, or checking the weather.

And that’s helpful in banking as well. With Eno, customers can perform basic money management tasks more easily like checking on their account balances, where they’ve spent money, or when their next payment is due.

But the best assistants don’t just reactively help with simple tasks. The best assistants solve problems before they ever happen.

Where we see real potential to add more value to our customers lives is through an intelligent assistant that is more proactive and personalized in helping you manage your financial life—and doing so in a way that is paradoxically more human-like than the way the financial industry brings products to life today.

This means anticipating and addressing customer needs before customers realize they have a need and engaging customers when it is contextually relevant. It also means being able to understand and interact intelligently with customers and providing the right solution to a diverse set of customer problems.

That was the impetus behind Eno’s new alerts and insights capabilities, which can help stop potential fraud in its tracks and also catch potential mistakes by spotting unusually large tips, double charges or other unusual charges. And when Eno spots a problem, Eno not only notifies you, but can often take action on your behalf.

We want Eno to be helpful to our customers before, during and after every transaction. We know that customers want more control over their card information when they’re shopping online. So, we expanded Eno’s capabilities to help make shopping online safer and easier.  At checkout, Eno can instantly create virtual card numbers right from the browser so cardholders can shop online without using their real credit card number.

Our goal isn’t to create the next new novel feature, but to help our customers in the moments that matter most. This is about money - and money matters to people.

 That’s why it’s critical that we remove barriers, meet customers where they are, and offer contextual relevance. Toward that end, we’ve focused in the past two years on expanding Eno into all of our digital channels, and Eno is now showing up in the channels our customers prefer - from the website, email, SMS to our award-winning mobile app.

As Eno’s intelligence continues to grow and learn more from interacting with our customers, Eno’s ability to help our customers with their financial lives will continue to grow as well.

Here are a few more lessons learned and insights on building next-gen intelligent assistants that deliver value and solve real problems for customers:

  • Solve real problems: Avoid tech for tech’s sake. Stay focused on solving customers actual problems, not adding every cool, new functionality under the sun. Sometimes the most basic way is the right way for the customer.
     

  • Focus: Don’t try to ask your assistant to do too much. Failure is trying to be everything for everyone. Pick a thing you’re going to be good at and be really good at it. Be meaningful in your customer’s life.
     

  • Don’t just replicate your call center experience: With digital technologies, machine learning and real-time analytics, you have the ability to provide new kinds of value to customers. It’s not just anticipating what customers might call you about and trying to rip costs out of the system. The real power lies in unearthing things your customers didn’t even know was possible.
     

  • Test and Learn. Get something in market quickly at small scale to test. You just can’t be sure how customers will interact with it. We had assumptions about the ways that our customers would interact with Eno and were able to quickly adjust our approach based on what we learned in pilot.
     

  • First Impressions Matter. You only get one chance to make a good first impression at scale. Our team rightly held to a high standard for scaling the product and was disciplined in holding us back until our user experience success rates were where they needed to be. Today, we’re proud of Eno’s 4.7 out of 5 star rating, and we’re going to work hard to ensure Eno continues to provide meaningful value for our customers.
     

  • Maintain Trust. Trust is the business we’re in. Privacy, transparency, security, control are all elements of trust. You need to be highly attuned to the balance of delivering users real value while maintaining high standards for user privacy, transparency, security and control. Customers should be fully aware of the value trade off they’re getting between access to information and what the company can provide in exchange.
     

  • Diversity Matters. Build and foster a diverse and inclusive culture where every voice is heard and matters. Everyone has a unique point of view to share, shaped by their life experiences, cultures, and passions. Eno is unequivocally a better product because of the diverse design, product and engineering team that collaboratively shaped who Eno is today and who continues to ensure Eno stays true to our core purpose and values.
     

  • Stay humble. Keep learning. We’re focused on helping teams stay current on macro trends, from machine learning to new styles of interfaces to changing business models. Equally important is ensuring your workforce has access to learn about technology and build new technical skills. Through our Tech College program, all associates at Capital One have the opportunity to access a world-class, engineer-designed learning program that offers a comprehensive curriculum focused on the latest technology disciplines.

Don Busick
Executive Vice President, Digital Product Development, Capital One
@donbusick

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: These opinions are those of the author. Unless noted otherwise in this post, Capital One is not affiliated with, nor is it endorsed by, any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are the ownership of their respective owners. This article is © 2018 Capital One.