TD Ameritrade’s Virtual Assistant Named Ted

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 11:38 AM with 9 comments

TD Ameritrade's virtual assistant TedA while back online brokerage TD Ameritrade launched Ted, a virtual assistant. The virtual assistant consists of a static (read – not animated) headshot of a white male and a text box where you can ask a question, and upon submission the question is restated and the Web visitor will get a response.

When I heard about this a few questions came to mind. As a friend of mine has a TD account, I asked them if I could try out Ted. The following is a log of the questions and responses from Ted. I have edited some of the responses as they simply gave details on how to use a TD account, which I felt were not relevant to the retelling of this experiment.

The Experiment

You Asked: where are my statements Ted: To view or print your statements and confirmations, click… (edited)

You Asked: did my last trade go through? Ted: The "Order Status" screen displays information about your trades for the current… (edited)

You Asked: how did the market do today? Ted: The "Markets" overview page under Research & Ideas… (edited)

You Asked: I'm not sure if I want to sell or buy Ted: I would love to help you, but I'm not sure I understand your question. Please try rewording your question.

You Asked: I said I am not sure if I want to buy or sell Ted: To place a stock order online, you can select "Stocks" under Trade… (edited)

You Asked: but should I Ted: TD AMERITRADE accounts are self-directed, allowing you to choose how to invest your assets. We offer an extensive set of tools, products and services that can help you build a portfolio. We don't offer advice for self-directed accounts, but we do have other programs you may be interested in. Please contact a Client Services representative for more information.

You Asked: How are you Ted: I'm good, thanks. How are you?

You Asked: Not too bad Ted: That's good to hear. What questions can I answer for you about TD AMERITRADE?

You Asked: do you think in this volatile market TD ameritrade should be launching a virtual consultant? Ted: Good question. I am not sure how to answer that. Please try rewording your question. I understand simple questions best.

You Asked: why a virtual consultant Ted: I apologize I don't have an answer to your question. A Client Services representative would be happy to answer your question by email or phone. For contact information click Contact Us. Contact Us

You Asked: What is your last name? Ted: I don't have a last name, you can just call me Ted.

You Asked: Thanks for your help buddy Ted: You're welcome.

You Asked: have a nice day Ted: Goodbye.

My Assessment

When I first heard the name of TD’s virtual assistant is Ted, the first thing that popped into my mind was United Airlines’ failed discount airline of the same name. I tried to keep an open mind though when I posed these questions. As you can see, these questions ranged from the mot common to personal. In the middle I posed a few questions seeking advice, as I was curious to what the response would be.

I laud TD Ameritrade for experimenting with Ted. It may not be for everybody, but in some cases it may help people, especially in navigating a comprehensive and complex Web site. Even in tough times, it is important to be innovative - even if Ted couldn’t answer that question directly.


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