Why Bank of Montreal Launched BMO Bolt™ to Transform Customer Experience

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Bank of Montreal (BMO) has always been at the forefront of innovation. It launched the first ATMs in Canada, was one of the earliest Internet banks on the scene, and launched the first robo-advisor product in Canada. Since then, BMO has also invested heavily in digital as part of its commitment to reimagine banking by creating highly personalized, relevant, and accessible customer experiences. In fact, BMO’s vision is to be the bank that defines great customer experience.

To continue on that ambition and assist customers in their day to day needs, BMO initiated work on launching a conversational banking assistant to help its customers find answers to banking-related queries. The launch of BMO Bolt™ allows the bank to connect with its customers via channels like Facebook Messenger, a popular platform amongst all age groups for social interactions.

“By giving our prospects and customers the opportunity to engage with our brand, access information, and explore our products, we wanted to be able to not only create better experiences for them, but also lay the foundation for more personalized customer service and sales capabilities in the future,” says Sumit Sarkar, Head, Customer Experience and Strategy – Personal Banking at BMO. “We knew that launching a conversational assistant would change the way we work as a company and as a brand by fundamentally shifting how we engage with current and prospective customers.”



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From Plans to Action: BMO Bolt™ Is Born

Once BMO decided to launch a conversational assistant, the next challenge was figuring out how to build it. After considering a variety of options, they ultimately chose Finn AI. Key factors that led to their decision included the speed to market that Finn AI could deliver by leveraging their banking domain expertise and pre-trained language understanding models.

Other important considerations were the ability to deploy directly into a non-native channel like Facebook Messenger, and the fact that Finn AI could provide the change management support as well as the ability to scale the solution across channels and languages, if required.

Part of the overall strategy was to start small with a proof of concept to demonstrate the value that a virtual assistant could provide and then expand from there. The initial phase of the work included developing a conversational assistant called BMO Bolt™ that was capable of responding to around 250 of the most frequently asked questions that BMO’s customer support center regularly fields.

“Collectively, those 250 questions represent a significant portion of the total general inquiries that BMO’s customer support center is asked,” says Jake Tyler, CEO at Finn AI. “That’s key because it has massive implications for optimizing BMO’s customer service operations by making them much more efficient and focused on value-added conversations.”

It was also a great way to demonstrate the value of a virtual assistant as a driver in creating a more positive and responsive customer experience.

With conversational artificial intelligence (AI), customer interaction will often uncover additional opportunities

to expand functionality. Within weeks of launching, BMO Bolt™ discovered a trend of customer inquiries around foreign exchange rates, information that had not yet been integrated into the assistant. Since this was something BMO customers wanted, the team was able to quickly add the necessary functionality to satisfy these inquiries.

“As our relationship matures, we continue to add new capabilities to BMO Bolt,” says Tyler. “That’s part of the partnership and how we work with our customers. We don’t just stand up a bot and turn it over to you, but rather remain long-term partners who can help you refine and expand your offering so that it evolves to meet your business needs over time.”

This ongoing optimization of BMO Bolt™ will ensure that end users have a consistently high-quality experience over time.

“Rolling out BMO Bolt is an example of our commitment to building technologies that both improve the overall customer experience and create efficiencies within the organization. It’s a big leap forward that reflects our leadership position as it relates to innovating with a purpose.”

Head, Customer Experience and Strategy – Personal Banking

Early Results Are Encouraging

Although it’s still early days, BMO is very pleased with the initial results. Not only was the bank able to launch its conversational assistant in ten months — better time than it would take most vendors — it’s also seeing significant traction with customers using BMO Bolt™ to self-serve on actions such as product information, password changes, and card activations. Most importantly, BMO has already seen a +1 point improvement in their customer feedback scores on Facebook.

Today, BMO is not only expanding the ways in which its conversational assistant can help its customers, it’s also looking to start doing so in French to better serve a portion of its customer base.

“Rolling out BMO Bolt has been a big leap forward for us and has allowed us to maintain our leadership position at the cutting edge of innovation,” says Sarkar. “We couldn’t be more pleased with how things have worked out.”



Information and Support:
At launch, BMO customers could use BMO Bolt™ to ask 250 different frequently asked questions about everything from applying for products to where branches are located and more.


Finn AI is an award-winning, AI-powered virtual assistant built for personal banking and finance. We put a personal banker in every bank customer’s pocket, helping them to manage their money
wherever they are, whatever they need—via a simple, natural conversation.

The Finn AI team of data scientists, engineers, and financial industry experts helps banks and credit unions transform customer engagement and increase financial literacy, while delivering the convenience and savings of a digital-first experience.

For more information, please contact us.