How can (A)I help you? The rise of the bot in financial services

Banks are highly enthusiastic about the potential of AI, but many professionals are unsure of how to apply the technology to specific issues.

Managing customer service interactions can, in many cases, be expensive; from the required infrastructure to the person sitting behind a phone or desk, costs quickly build up. This arguably fueled the transition from in-country to out of country customer contact centers. However, even so, many organizations still pay huge amounts to complete simple queries that customer service advisors could complete with their eyes shut. Therein lies the reason why many of the conversations we have today aren’t actually taking place with another human, but rather an automated virtual bot that is willing to cater to our every need.

Meeting customer expectations

There has been a considerable rise in the use of bots in the service ecosystem which, alongside reducing cost, is enabling businesses to re-imagine the way they deliver customer experience. While some still consider it to be a case of setting the cat among the pigeons in their workforce optimization, many forward-thinking companies are investing in AI-powered technologies such as virtual chat assistants. The true value in its adoption is the ability to harness a unified and proactive ecosystem that meets the growing demands and expectations of customers while controlling costs.

Don’t be outdone by the new kids on the block

At the heart of this innovation is the banking and financial services sector. A Global Consumer Banking survey by Ernst & Young showed that innovating customer experience in a similar fashion to how fintech organizations have, is one of the four critical areas where legacy banks must focus their investments and efforts to restore their central place in the lives of consumers. According to Gartner, “An estimated two-thirds of consumers in developed markets will use virtual personal assistant services”. However, even with all this overwhelming evidence, some businesses still fail to see the benefit and decide not to implement these new services.

Automatically saving time – for customers and the business

So why should banks focus on providing them? Because whether it’s offering loans, setting up credit cards, or handling requests for balance details, customers – especially millennials – expect the experience to be as rapid-fire, consistent and meaningful as any online shopping transaction or app purchase from an online mobile store. Without being offered such services, they may not be as loyal to their bank of choice as that institution may hope. And it’s not just millennials either, even the baby-boomer generation is coming to rely on apps or voice automated services to handle many of their simpler enquiries – if only for ease of use rather than habit.

Building AI relationships

This is why banks must harness virtual chat and voice assistants. They are equipped with the human-like ability to cater to the specific needs of banking customers while making use of the power of automation. Virtual channels can simulate a live agent – from initiating customer conversations, to delivering information and taking actions on their behalf. Backed by strong IP-led CX technology platforms, they can also detect customers’ emotions, perform transactions, and augment context and personalization – elevating the overall banking experience. This helps to deepen a customer’s relationship with the bank, with little to no interaction from an actual human – thus, this is a much more cost-effective process, and in many cases a much more efficient one for the customer.

By embracing new technologies which elevate the interaction experience with their bank, customers can easily undertake many actions on their account autonomously – with no wait time and complete independence. Giving them the power to do so can help drive loyalty by catering to their needs and requirements, with little investment from the bank – comparative to running a call center to deal with these requests in person. What’s more, not offering such services could drive away potential customers who have come to expect the effective, automated service they get from the likes of Amazon and Uber. Although short term savings may look tempting to banks, not empowering bots to help customers now could prove to be a costly mistake in an automated future.

Written by Ashish Koul

Ashish Koul is Senior Vice President and General Manager at Servion Global Solutions

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