Banking continues to develop online and on mobile, moving away from traditional in-branch services. In fact, research from the Bank of America found sixty-two percent of respondents used mobile or online as their primary method of banking last year, which marks an eleven percent increase from 2015.
Additionally, more users are moving to online-only challenger banks, which are driving traditional institutions to be more competitive. In today’s world, everything is commoditized, with businesses struggling to compete on price and product. As such, delivering a better customer experience has become the only real differentiator. In the battle for customer loyalty, next-generation technologies will become crucial.
A smarter customer experience
The field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven automation technology is already helping a number of banks to reduce costs and improve customer experience, by automating lengthy manual processes and freeing up staff to spend more time engaging with customers. In addition, we are also seeing AI driven voice activation taking over a range of customer interactions. A range of voice activated services, such as Siri and Alexa, are also becoming commonplace, which is normalizing the use of voice as a means of communicating with machines.
The natural evolution of these advances is voice biometrics. For banking, biometrics is set to become one of the most crucial tools in customer experience in the years ahead – providing customers with a convenient way to interact without the need for lengthy and inconvenient login processes, and with no additional customer authentication required. Consumers are frustrated by needing to remember numerous passwords or carrying a dongle around, just to access their accounts – any technology that helps to solve this issue will put banks one step ahead of the competition.
For example, Wells Fargo has built a voice-driven payments system that combines biometric authentication, natural language processing (NLP) and AI technologies, to allow more complex actions – such as transferring funds without having to type a single character. As they can only be verified by the user’s unique voice, this means transactions are highly secure, and at the same time convenient for the customer. For the bank – agents in the customer hub have more time as a result, so are more available to handle complex interactions, such as a mortgage application.
Utilizing machine learning and AI, voice recognition technology will continue to adapt using the data it collects, meaning that it will develop with each use and continue to improve. Emirates NBD bank has begun trialing EVA, an intelligent virtual assistant capable of having realistic voice interactions with customers, learning to better understand natural and conversational English.
In time, this technology has the potential to dramatically reduce operational costs for banks – since live customer support agents normally charge by the hour, even a 30-second reduction in call time results in significant cost savings. Completing an entire customer service interaction via virtual means is even more cost effective. As for the customers themselves, AI will offer highly personalized financial advice without the need for a human agent to be present. For customers, these technologies result in faster issue resolution, lower wait times, reduced customer effort and improved customer satisfaction.
Customers will push banks into the future
The banking industry has typically been known as a laggard in terms of technology – however the industry is making great progress in the adoption of emerging technologies. When it comes to meeting the needs of younger generations and future customers, voice recognition is just the tip of the iceberg. Customers will begin to see and demand augmented and virtual reality channels of communication with their banks. We will even see holograms in use, as companies look to meet the rising expectations of consumers and start to innovate within the customer service space. It’s up to all banking organizations to ensure they are at the forefront of innovation, otherwise they risk being left behind.