Bank Branch Unveils its First Social Humanoid Robot for Customer Service in Silicon Valley

By Ilene Eng

CUPERTINO—A customer service robot has made its way to a bank in Silicon Valley. Pepper, the social humanoid robot, is the first of its kind at an HSBC bank in the Bay Area.

“We’ve seen tremendous excitement through customer engagement, greeting and delighting customers, setting new customer expectations and branch satisfaction scores,” said Jeremy Balkin, head of innovation at HSBC Bank.

Customers can ask Pepper questions and interact with the robot during a demo at the HSBC branch in Cupertino on Aug. 13, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

SoftBank Robotics, the provider, has partnered with the bank for over a year. They have seen Pepper help customers in line.

“So Pepper’s there to alleviate some of the wait time. I think some of the studies done with HSBC, we’ve seen the average wait time of about four minutes to one minute, which is great,” said Kass Dawson, head of marketing and business strategy at SoftBank Robotics.

It answers the common questions first before redirecting the customer to a real person.

“Pepper is providing information about different products. It’s telling about credit cards, about mortgages, about different loans that they have, as well as driving them to the ATM,” said Dawson.

The bank first unveiled Pepper in Manhattan last year in June.

“We’ve had over 30,000 customer interactions, we’ve seen [a] 60 percent increase in new business at our flagship branch since Pepper has been deployed,” said Balkin.

Jeremy Balkin takes a selfie with Pepper during a demo at the HSBC branch in Cupertino on Aug. 13, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

The robot also has a fun side.

“Customers actually walk in our branches and want to get a selfie, and they smile about it, and then share it on social media,” said Balkin. “And we’re so honored to be bringing that here in the Silicon Valley here today.”

Including this new bot in the Bay Area, there are currently seven robots deployed in HSBC banks across the U.S.: Manhattan, Miami, Beverly Hills, and Seattle.

Globally, It is used in retail, hospitality, restaurants, and some health care. But in the U.S., SoftBank Robotics wants to focus on customer experience, so they’re putting retail and retail banking first.

For businesses wanting a similar service, it’s moving towards a monthly subscription basis. The total price can range from $25,000 – $35,000 per robot.