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Chatbot: enhancing digital customer experiences

Entered in Chatbots


Our efforts to launch the Chatbot first began with setting up the Livechat tool in the fall of 2018 on to enable logged-in U.S. retail financial advisors to engage in conversations with our trained internal business consultants. Over the next two years, we saw strong engagement with the chat feature, and some individual advisors engaged with the tool over 30 times.

In late 2020, we set out to expand the Livechat tool to investors and then launch a Chatbot feature for investors and advisors. The idea to implement a Chatbot arose because we identified a business challenge that was exacerbated by the pandemic: U.S. advisors and their investment clients lacked sufficient access to modern communication touchpoints to help them solve their service needs. We were largely relying on traditional methods of communication like telephones, email, and even paper and postage. With the pandemic necessitating even more of a focus on excellent digital customer experiences, we set out to provide new ways for customers to interact with us—letting them engage with us on their terms. We use the Chatbot to provide customers with another way to communicate with us in real time without having to pick up the phone. In addition, the Chatbot can always transfer the customer over to a Livechat agent if they need further assistance.

Strategy and Execution

In early 2020, the pandemic changed the world, and our customers were anxious about the impact of COVID-19. We recognized the opportunity for us to use a tool that we already had in place to make it easier for retail customers to interact with us in these uncertain times.

After assessing the types of queries that came through our Livechat tool, we learned that 40% of the chats we received involved login issues or finding forms. We also interviewed call center agents and internal business consultants, and their feedback aligned with this earlier finding–the most popular inquiries involved finding forms and/or finding information on the website. As a result, we decided to start there and developed a “form finding” use case in which the bot serves as a guided web tool directing the user to the form requested. Since then, we’ve enhanced our Chatbot to answer the most frequently asked questions by our customers. In 2022 alone, we added seven new use cases and enhancements to the Chatbot.

Here’s a look at how our Chatbot works. Visitors to our website who click on the Chatbot button select whether they’re an investor or an advisor before using the tool. Depending on the nature of the question, the Chatbot may be able to provide an answer or transfer the customer to a live agent for more in-depth assistance. The original scope of launching the Chatbot was to enable a virtual assistant as a communication platform for advisors and investors leveraging the existing Livechat relationship, create a graduated service model that can start as the Chatbot, then move to a live agent if required. The Chatbot will unlock the option for advisors and investors to self-serve if they wish.

We can also set up triggers in the Chatbot so that if a customer types a certain phrase, we can serve up relevant content. We’ve also ensured that both advisors and investors have their own Chatbot paths built to set up for more tailored experiences when use cases are expanded.

Bringing a digital project like this to life at a large financial company had its slew of challenges. Developing and implementing an automated servicing tool within the confines of a heavily regulated industry is no easy feat. We worked closely with our compliance and risk partners to ensure that we were meeting their requirements without compromising our digital standards or the experience of our end user. As is the nature of any large company, there were also a lot of stakeholders and opinions to balance when formulating the MVP implementation of the bot. One of the largest obstacles we tackled was narrowing down the right use case to start with to ensure that we could actually drive measurable change.

Post implementation, our biggest challenge was finding a way to operate and maintain the Chatbot effectively. Since launch, we’ve pulled together a working group that oversees the day-to-day bot operations, maintains live agent resourcing, and introduces new features regularly so we can improve on our customer experience. 


Since its launch, the Chatbot has completed over 1,700 chats with clients. The tool’s efficiency rating—chats that are handled solely by the Chatbot—increased to 43% in 2022 from 33% in 2021. In addition, the Chatbot has achieved a 70% customer satisfaction rating since launch. The average response time in Livechat/Chatbot is 23 seconds, which is 21 seconds faster than other companies leveraging the tool in the United States.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

John Hancock Investment Management