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How a UX designer created a Capital One chatbot so good, some people want to marry it

How a UX designer created a Capital One chatbot so good, some people want to marry it
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


After transitioning from journalism to user experience design, Steph Hay found herself at Capital One helping to create an AI assistant that customers would end up loving so much, one invited it to Thanksgiving dinner. “Eno” is the first gender-neutral AI assistant in banking, bucking the trend among companies to render smart assistants female. “We want our customers to relate with and trust Eno,” Hay says. “To do that in the context of money, something so nuanced and personalized, meant we needed to strip away anything about the character that could inhibit trust. Gender is one of those variables.” Today, mil­­lions of customers use Eno–the first natural-language chatbot from a U.S. bank–to manage their accounts, report fraud, and shop online. (Eno is the backward spelling of one, as in Capital One.) Hay’s 70-person team has continued to update the technology since its 2017 debut; moving fraud notifications to Eno’s expanded language capabilities drove up Capital One’s understanding of user responses from 85% to 99%, and reduced user frustration. On top of the dinner invite, Eno has fielded marriage proposals. Eno’s response? “Nah, I’m a young chatbot and still getting to know little ol’ me.”

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