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AI Case Study

USAA implements Watson to automate responses to customer services inquiries online

The USAA (United Services Automobile Association) has piloted IBM Watson Engagement Advisor for use as a text-based chatbot. Watson Engagement Advisor provides customer services answers for members of the military transitioning to civilian life who have insurance, retirement and other questions. This is part of an effort to automate the USAA's online and mobile portals to handle questions as a call centre would.


Financial Services


Project Overview

"USAA is using the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, a version designed for customer-service and support roles, to respond to myriad, potentially complex questions that customers might ask about leaving the military. The information that's available to military personnel is often written like dense legalese, with lots of acronyms and rules, so part of the challenge for Watson was providing context to make that information simpler and easier to understand. Whereas IBM and USAA trained Watson for questions that were specific to details of things like insurance policies and the GI Bill, the questions submitted in early rollouts were much more general and open ended... Customers can type in questions on the website and will have the option of speaking questions about military separation on the mobile site."

Reported Results

Results undisclosed but USAA states that while "it's too soon to measure Watson performance gains tied to its self-learning capabilities... the technology has significant advantages over conventional scripted systems and rules-based decision trees".



Customer Service



"USAA serves more than 10 million members of the US military and their families, and each year more than 150,000 active military members transition to civilian life, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. USAA chose the Military Separation sections of its web and mobile sites for a Watson pilot project because it involves an array of complex topics including education, health insurance, housing, and retirement decisions."



"Watson is interacting with registered users of USAA's website and mobile site, so it can combine its cognitive capabilities with some scripting based on what's known about each customer. Watson was initially trained on 3,000 documents, including USAA documents and content from external sources including the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense."

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