Real-world applications of AI in Superannuation – Using chatbots to automate exception processing.

AI and automation are all about taking tasks that were once performed by humans and performing them even better, at lower cost. To date, the Australian superannuation industry has been fairly tentative in the uptake of AI, with some initial forays limited to chatbots that deliver basic information. Yet, the real-world applications of AI in superannuation are expanding. In an exciting new development, an AI-backed tool has been developed that enables super funds to overcome a perennial administrative headache – the manual processing of contribution exceptions. Let’s take a closer look.

A weak link in the workflow of most super funds, manual handling of exceptions is most typically required when a member’s contribution payment arrives at the fund, without the corresponding advice that explains who the payment is for and which account it should go into. Funds can get hundreds of these unmatched payments each week and many have a dedicated team of people to manually chase up the information needed to correctly match and allocate each payment. Dealing with contribution exceptions remains a time consuming and costly exercise for funds. It breaks their business processing chain by requiring manual intervention, preventing them from achieving true straight through processing and the significant cost efficiencies this would bring.

Recognising that this basic task is ripe for automation, Bravura Solutions has developed a ground-breaking AI backed tool for its digital-first operating model – Sonata Alta – specifically designed to address this challenge. Powered by IBM Watson’s language capabilities and Sonata Alta’s data, the exciting new exception resolution tool can simultaneously manage and resolve an unlimited number of super contribution exceptions, without the need for manual intervention and handling. The tool allows super funds to reduce their cost-to-serve and redirect precious resources to activities that add genuine value to their members.

So how does the exceptions resolution tool work? In a nutshell, a conversational chatbot steps through the same processes that a manual handler would, yet via email with links to a chat, rather than by phone. Configurable to any rules a fund specifies, the chatbot identifies exceptions and employs advanced machine learning capabilities to reach out and cycle through a Q&A workflow in search of the missing information. For example, the chatbot might be programmed to contact the IT department first, followed by the clearing house. If successful, the tool reunites the payment with the corresponding information, resolving the exception. If unsuccessful, it repeats the workflow twice and then, if still unresolved, escalates the matter to a staff member to investigate. The chatbot features advanced voice recognition capabilities, allowing respondents to choose between written and verbal replies to the requests for information. The vast majority of unmatched payments can be resolved by the exceptions resolution tool in this way, dramatically lowering a fund’s exception handling costs.

A comprehensive exceptions handling dashboard accompanies the chatbot functionality, allowing for the full traceability and accountability of all chatbot interactions. Funds can monitor and track all exceptions being dealt with by the tool by viewing their status in the workflow in real-time. The dashboard shows the current number of issues resolved, escalated to manual handling and refunded, as well as the total number dealt with via straight through processing. This allows Trustees to drill down and view a complete record of all chatbot emails and conversations to get to the heart of any exception related issue they choose. The chatbot conversations stay open and active until a resolution has been reached.

Processing super contribution exceptions has never been this quick and easy. By facilitating true straight-through processing for a far higher number of exceptions, Sonata Alta’s exciting new exceptions resolution tool can take savvy super funds to a whole new level of automation.

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