News & Views - Savantor

YBS Virtual Assistant

Monday, 02 January 2006

Have we seen the first tentative steps towards the finance industry's acceptance of customer-facing virtual technology? During the latter part of 2005, Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) introduced the world to "Helen", an entirely virtual assistant offering online mortgage assistance to its customers (

Helen has proved, at least initially, something of a success with over 3,000 users taking up the challenge to converse with her and, as was inevitable, trying to trip her up. Only time will tell on her long-term appeal, but its good to see a building society committing to new possibilities to this degree.

From a technological perspective, the feature that stands out with this YBS initiative is the natural language interface, enabling customers to converse in plain English rather than specific keywords being picked out or the customer needing to select from a set of predefined questions.

Savantor has regarded this move as an inevitable step for some time, although inertia within the industry towards the adoption of unassisted customer-facing technologies has not helped its progress.

In 2001, Savantor investigated and prototyped the use of virtual worlds for precisely this type of business environment, to offer customers financial services and advice across the internet in a new, engaging and memorable environment. At the time, we found that the traditional approach of financial institutions hampered investment, despite individuals recognising potential benefits.

Following this bold step from YBS, we hope that more banks and building societies will start to look at improving everyone's banking experience by embracing new and exciting technologies in the same way. We'll be watching closely to see where this ultimately leads and what other areas could benefit from Helen's expertise. 

If you are interested to learn more about the business uses and customer benefits of this technology then email us at

Savantor Services

Savantor Services

Savantor services are tailored to Client needs based on our core service areas

Specialist Resourcing Payments Strategy Platform Transition Operational Efficiency
Savantor Services

Job Opportunities

Consulting and contracting roles in the payments, mobile and banking arena within the UK and across Europe

View more
Savantor Services

Savantor Views

Find out more from our Savantor brochures, MarketEye back copies and Industry opinion

Collateral Market Eye News & Views Sign Up to receive MarketEye

Client Quotes

Market Insights

"Savantor did a good job in helping us understand the dynamics of a key growth area for Trionis. Savantor's ability to listen and their degree of commitment have always impressed me. They have been of great help in providing us important market insights and I would not hesitate to work with them again in future."

Ernst Verbeek, Managing Director - Trionis - Belgium

Payment Specialists

"Working close with Savantor's professionals over the years in the payment arena. I appreciate the skills and knowledge these guys have and will surely engage with them when opportunities arise. The current engagement with Savantor is full to satisfaction and beyond."

Idsert Walta, Head of Banking Categories - Nordea - Scandinavia

Business and Platform Strategy

"Savantor successfully advised Rabobank during preparing of the platform migration for cards. Savantor demonstrated thorough knowledge of business processes and market players combined with a practical approach."

Evert Fekkes, Business Information Manager - Rabobank - Nederland

Acquirer Transformation

"We needed a programme manager for a complex transformation who also brought a broad understanding to help stakeholders through the change. We have been delighted with the delivery and outcomes from this engagement with Savantor."

Michael Liquornik, Executive Vice President - Neovia Financial - UK

Credit Card Launch

"Savantor's knowledge and experience were the key differentiators in selecting them and they contributed greatly to the success of the product launch and the effectiveness of the ongoing operational service."

Toine Schepers, Operations Director - Primeline - The Netherlands

Acquirer Risk Assessment

"The expertise provided by Savantor has greatly helped us evaluate our risk position and to take the right steps in managing our future risks. Strong, disciplined planning and an ongoing willingness to work closely with our staff played an enormous part in making this a very successful well-delivered project which will greatly help us in achieving our business goals."

Mark Healy, Chief Risk Officer - NEOVIA Financial - UK

Card Processing Migration

"Disciplined methodology and effective teamwork, guided by Savantor's migration expertise and operational knowledge, were the hallmarks that led to the resounding success of this project, enabling us to maintain and develop our business capability."

Robert Lambert, Head of Cards Strategy - Permanent tsb bank - Ireland

Credit Risk Review for New Product Launch

"We needed expert help at short notice and Savantor were very impressive in their response and knowledge. The results were very clear and useful, enabling us to quickly make good progress on the next steps."

Sami Karhunen, Head of Business Intelligence and SME Sales - Point Transaction Systems Oy - Finland

Clients - Request Support

Send us a support request and one of our specialists will be in contact to assist you.

Consultants – Upload your CV

Register your CV with us and gain access to a range of job opportunities through our online job search portal.