U Bank has recently launched RoboChat, Australia’s first virtual assistant to help you complete your home loan application online.
The purpose of their new robotic pal is to assist users who are completing their home loan online and provide them with answers to their questions without having to wait for a fleshy human to respond. If RoboChat cannot answer your question, it will give you the option to switch to a member of the support team.
RoboChat was built in conjunction with IBM Watson and is currently in beta. This is supposedly a bot that learns, becoming both smarter and more user-friendly over time.
We were curious though, since basic ‘chat bots’ have existed for a while now. Additionally, it’s a lot of trust to ask of from nervous first-timers who may not want to put their life-changing loan in the cold hands of a robot – regardless of how smart it is supposed to be!
Would RoboChat truly make the process easier? I decided to find out for myself.
I clicked on the button to start chatting and was immediately introduced to RoboChat, who was very friendly when it introduced itself. I didn’t want to get on RoboChat’s bad side, so we had a nice little back and forth to start off! It didn’t ask me how I was, but maybe it will learn to do that sometime down the line.
The form itself is fairly simple and takes the user through the initial screening process step-by-step, asking you questions like how many applicants there are, what type of loan you are interested in, etc. RoboChat will sit in the corner, dutifully waiting for you to ask a question.
If you hit a snag, you can ask RoboChat about why your loan would be refused or require further intervention. For example: when I told U Bank that I was self-employed, the form stopped me right in my tracks. When I asked RoboChat why, it explained that U Bank required a PAYG slip for any loan. At least it was unambiguous!
Once I got past that roadblock, things progressed as you’d imagine. If I didn’t understand a term or phrase, RoboChat was ready to help me out with definitions and explanations. It was never in-depth, but that isn’t its purpose. It was always enough to proceed with the form.
Whenever information was provided, I was usually offered the chance to find out more or, where appropriate, switch over to a live human representative. I managed to get through the whole form with just RoboChat’s help so it definitely seems like it is a worthwhile companion.
I stopped just short of submitting my application. I have to say that RoboChat, even it its early state, really did help make the process easier to understand and less daunting to first home buyers like myself.
Before I closed the tab, I couldn’t help asking RoboChat one last question. It is one that many millennials have been asking themselves. Ironically, even RoboChat’s mechanical mind had no answers for me…