Online supermarket Ocado has announced the deployment of artificial intelligence into its customer service model.

Incoming emails are now categorised by a machine learning software model which provides a summary and priority tag for staff.

Ocado said this means human representatives don't have to spend hours categorising thousands of emails manually, meaning they can focus on solving the customers' problems in a timely manner.

"We strive to deliver the best shopping experience for all our 500,000-plus active customers,” said Debbie Wilson, Ocado contact centre operations manager.

“However, working in an omni channel contact centre can be challenging, with the team receiving thousands of contacts each day via telephone, email, webchat, social media and SMS.

“The new software developed by the Ocado Technology data science team will help the contact centre filter inbound customer contacts faster, enabling a quicker response to our customers which in turn will increase customer satisfaction levels."

The software model can process thousands of customer emails per day and has been trained using millions of past messages from customers.

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How the system works

Ocado claims the application respects customers' privacy by filtering out personal details such as postal or email addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive information.

Ocado Technology was assisted by TensorFlow in development of the in-house model.

"We’re thrilled that TensorFlow helped Ocado adapt and extend state-of- the-art machine learning techniques to communicate more responsively with their customers,” said Zak Stone, product manager for TensorFlow on the Google Brain Team.

“With a combination of open-source TensorFlow and Google Cloud services, Ocado and other leading companies can develop and deploy advanced machine learning solutions more rapidly than ever before." 

KPMG has predicted that mass market retail banks will be largely invisible to consumers by 2030, with e-personal assistants similar to Apple’s Siri taking over.