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Ally Bank’s in-app virtual assistant speaks customers’ language – literally

Ally Bank, seeking to deliver a more personal banking experience, has expanded its mobile application to include a virtual assistant with which users can interact via speech or text to transfer funds, pay bills, make deposits and perform other banking tasks.

With Ally AssistSM, users also can request detailed information on accounts and transactions, and obtain information on interest earned and saving or spending patterns. The move points to how, as consumers rapidly adapt to the mobile environment, they are also becoming more familiar with voice-assisted applications.

“We recognize that consumers often find themselves in situations where it’s much more convenient to speak a request as opposed to typing it in a text field,” said Carrie Sumlin, Digital Deposits executive at Ally Bank, a unit of Ally Financial.

“We think our customers will appreciate that added flexibility, as a well as the ability to customize their searches and apply additional filters to the search results. Ally Assist is a simpler, smarter solution when using Ally Mobile Banking,” she said.

Anticipating needs
Using automated intelligence and customer data profiles, Ally Assist is designed to anticipate customers’ needs and serve relevant solutions. The system learns from individual interactions and transactional behavior to determine the likelihood of needed information.

Tracking fund transfers via voice communications.

For example, it can suggest data users might be interested in, such as the date and amount of a recent deposit, or a duplicate charge posted to a checking account. 

By typing or speaking a request, customers can receive an immediate automated response.

For instance, they can use Ally Assist to calculate how much they’ve spent or deposited across all accounts. Typing or speaking, “How much did I spend in May,” will produce a calculated answer and then a list to specific transactions.

Asking “How much did I spend at <Merchant Name> will summarize the customer’s spending per merchant. 

When a user views the record of a transaction on his or her account, Ally Assist will help the user understand the transaction in greater detail. For instance, when a user may not recognize the name of the merchant, Ally Assist can provide the user with more detailed information. 

The service is designed to make banking more convenient.

First the customer logs in to his or her Ally account via a mobile phone.

He or she then will see the Ally Assist icon in the menu. Tapping the menu option for Ally Assist takes the user to a new screen showing information of potential interest, based on individual unique transactions and account activities. 

From the predictions screen, the customer can speak or type a specific request. The results are displayed on a new screen, and the user can continue to refine the answer.

Ally Assist also lets customers personalize requests when looking for specific information, such the date when a check cleared, or when a deposit posted to an account.

The move continues Ally Bank’s expansion of its suite of mobile customer services.

Last summer, it launched a mobile app designed specifically for the iPad tablet in response to findings that nearly one-third of its customers were using mobile devices for their banking needs.

Designed to deliver an exceptional experience for consumers, who increasingly were shifting their device preferences toward tablets, the app offered the same secure banking experience and all the functionality of Ally Mobile Banking for smartphones.

New features
Ally’s iPad app also introduced new features such as the ability to research products, view rates and open a new account from the app.


Helping customers who are used to voice-enabled mobile interactions.

“Nearly half of our customers use mobile to access their accounts, and mobile logins represents more than one third of all logins at Ally Bank, so we are always looking at ways to optimize the mobile channel,” Ms. Sumlin said.

“Ally Assist allows a more personalized level of self service when using Ally Mobile Banking. By simply asking a question, they get exactly what they need.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York