U.S. Bank’s Chief Analytics Officer Bill Hoffman thinks the term “artificial intelligence” is a bit of a misnomer – he prefers to think about AI as a customized experience.

“The ‘A’ in AI should be ‘augmented,’ not artificial,” he said in an interview last year with CMO Australia. “There’s nothing artificial about building a high quality, personalized relationship with a customer.”

Hoffman’s less artificial approach to AI is transforming how U.S. Bank interacts with its customers and builds quality relationships with people.

Hoffman was instrumental in U.S. Bank’s adoption of Einstein, an AI platform offered by Salesforce, late last year. Einstein helps the bank build relationships with its customers by supporting customer service professionals in having the right conversation at the right time with a customer.

Einstein uses data to help build personal relationships between the banker and customers. For example, the service can notify U.S. Bank that a customer is following spending patterns indicative of someone interested in buying a house. At that moment, a U.S. Bank representative can reach out and help.

He brings a refreshingly comforting tone to how customer service interactions should occur in the digital age.

“With Einstein, we’re helping human beings do what they do best, which is to be a human being,” he said in a statement.

This October, Hoffman will give a keynote speech at the &THEN Conference in Las Vegas, where he will discuss how AI can make interactions with customers more human.

The bank noted that it is already having success with Einstein. Its average conversion rate of moving a retail customer into its wealth management division has already doubled a few months after the adoption of the platform.

He is a big believer in the idea that customers do not really differentiate between their experience with a bank and every other business they encounter on a daily basis.
“The Disneys, Amazons and Apples of the world are the bar,” Hoffman continued. “Our customers don’t compare us to other banks; they compare us to whoever is providing their very best user experience.”

Hoffman’s experience with data analytics stretches back decades. His first job was as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, and he joined the U.S. Navy Reserve following the September 11, 2001 attacks. He spent roughly 17 years as an intelligence officer with the CIA and military before moving into the private sector.

“I had a front-row seat to both the amazing power of good decisions and the destructive power of bad ones,” Hoffman told American Banker about his experience working in the military. “I developed a visceral dislike for bad decisions, which has powered my professional passion: to enable good decision-making. At the end of the day, that’s really the fundamental mission for anyone in a data analytics role.”

Hoffman sees a connection between trying to keep soldiers and others safe as an intelligence officer and providing an excellent, personalized customer service experience at U.S. Bank. In the end, the experience all centers around the other person and making them feel as secure and comfortable as possible.

“We want to make sure we put customers at the center of everything we do,” Hoffman told CMO. “They don’t look at us as a mortgage customer or an SMB. They’re a US Bank customer, period. So we need to have a unified view to create a unified customer experience. The way to do that is to enable our employees, so we’re leveraging AI and natural language in service of our front-line employee.”

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