Natural language call steering—Omni-channel customer engagement success stories

Kotak Mahindra – first bank in India to deploy AI-powered IVR voicebot.

Customers get faster resolutions and higher satisfaction.

Company profile

Mumbai‑based Kotak Mahindra Bank recently became the first bank in India to deploy an AI‑powered voicebot in its IVR channel. The voicebot uses natural language call steering to allow customers to use conversational speech—in Hindi or English—to navigate the bank’s services.

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Kotak Mahindra logo
Our AI-powered voicebot brings intelligent conversations to life, and will help us deliver a transformative self-service customer experience.

Shanti Ekambaram
President Consumer Banking
Kotak Bank


Over the past decade, Kotak Mahindra Bank has made its name as a pioneer in digital banking—and it’s no stranger to bringing new technologies to the Indian market. It was the first bank in India to enroll people digitally, and as of 2018, it’s started moving forward on its new digital charter. As part of this initiative, it’s working towards an AI-enriched app, biometric-enabled branches, context-enhanced customer experiences and data empowered design of products and services.

The bank knew that if it wanted a digital-first banking experience, its phone banking would have to keep up. Unlike many other banks, Kotak manages its own contact centers but as it grew, it was struggling to handle the rising call volumes and needed a way to support its phone agents more effectively.

Kotak Bank wanted voice-enabled experiences for its customers, easier navigation of its channels and more time for live agents to focus on complex cases. But with no other banks in India adopting any kind of virtual assistant for voice, the bank’s team knew it was a necessary challenge to overcome to stay ahead in the market.

As the first project of its kind in India, the Kotak Bank team needed a flexible solution and a partner with the readiness to address any challenges along the way. When compared with other vendors, only Nuance had the necessary proven experience and only Nuance’s Natural Language Understanding could help the bank reach their goal.

Kotak Bank launched the first phase of the project in March 2018 and worked with Nuance from early operational development through to creating a persona for the voice. By the time phase two was launched in November 2018, ‘Keya’—a smart, fast and conversational virtual assistant—was already becoming a vital part of the Kotak Bank contact center team.

The virtual assistant is available to answer queries 24 hours a day, so customers can call the bank and get their case resolved long after the live agents have gone home. Customers can ask the virtual assistant almost anything to do with their accounts, such as how to dispute a debit card transaction or how to link new cards to an account. And they can even request specific actions including blocking their cards or paying bills.

“Using voice is highly preferred in India, so we wanted to create an experience customers would be familiar with,” explains Puneet Kapoor, Senior Executive Vice President at Kotak Bank. “Keya understands natural conversation, processes the intent, and provides a resolution—or the right live person to get one.”

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