Harnessing the artificial to foster the authentic
This article was written by Mike Sloman and published on i-investonline.com.
Mike Sloman, financial expert and Senior Vice President of Business Development at Teleperformance, explores how technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation are proving to be vital tools in the financial institution’s armoury for creating sticky, compelling and long-lasting customer relationships.
Over the last few months, a surge of online users – new and existing – have had to navigate day-to-day life remotely and online, forcing businesses of all size and sector to ensure they can accommodate users digitally. For financial institutions, trust is and has always been paramount. As a result, close customer-facing interactions have been the cornerstone of the strategies of many businesses working in the sector – until now. For some time, the industry has been on the brink of a digital face lift, with promising online-first Fintechs – such as Monzo, Starling and Revolut – emerging as nimble challenger banks. Yet COVID-19 has accelerated that journey to digital transformation, as online technologies become vital for survival.
Consumers are clearly valuing the agility and convenience that online services provide; 67 per cent of customers said they would switch from a brand with poor customer service, to agile online competitors. In response to this insatiable appetite for digital services, banks are expected to spend a staggering £14 billion on technology this year, with the global online banking market projected to more than double from 9.1bn to 20.5bn by 2026.
As the financial industry readjusts to cater to changing user trends and an uncertain market landscape, financial institutions will need to transform legacy systems and enhance their digital offerings, to secure their place in a saturated market.
Here are just a few of the ways in which financial institutions can maintain trust with customers through digital technology:
The future is automated
COVID-19-induced restrictions across the UK have created logistical challenges for contact centres, and other back-office operations, that support customer welfare. While other industries have also been limited in operations, the financial industry providing personal services from loans to insurance risk management, has traditionally relied on close engagement. Customers can often feel cautious, uncomfortable, or hesitant to have discussions on sensitive topics such as debt, and only 27 per cent of people say they would ask their bank for advice. Luckily, developments in the Fintech sector over the last few years have produced an effective alternative for addressing certain tasks that customers may have previously shied away from.
Simple bank functions – such as transferring money – can be automated using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), to minimise the opportunity for human error. For more complex tasks, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its Machine Learning capabilities have been a catalyst for revolutionising existing legacy systems, to complete time-consuming functions that traditionally require a handler. Technology Claims processes, wire transfers, and re-mortgage approvals can be completed using automated bots, without the need for human intervention. AI-powered bots are so powerful that they can help streamline the entire lifecycle of a user’s journey, and generate quick actions such as providing mortgage or insurance offers in under thirty minutes, while simultaneously recording time-consuming data entries.
Bots can do it better
Many banks make the mistake of believing handlers need to be omnipresent to complete each and every interaction. Innovations in the technology sector are helping financial institutions use bots to hold conversations, and identify when empathy is needed.
Applications of Conversational Artificial Intelligence (CAI), namely chatbots, are becoming widely used by banking competitors, as the chatbot market size experiences an annual growth rate of 29.7 per cent. Chatbots are primed to speak to customers, detect sensitive cases, and even flag issues that may require human intervention. As well as holding conversations on behalf of human agents, chatbots can accumulate data needed for fast responses, adapt tone of voice, and pick up conversations on multiple channels.
Consumers live diverse lives, flitting from mobile devices, to desktop, to application and back again. Chatbots can cater to preferences and the nuances of each individual channel of communication. Conversations can move seamlessly between these touch points, following the consumer wherever they go, with the aim of effective resolution in mind. Chatbot solutions are now forecasted to nearly double in the next two years, forcing the most resistant financial institutions to follow these developments.
As well as automated chat functions, applications of Natural Language Processing (NLP) – including voice to chat functions – are allowing financial institutions to address customers that may prefer, or need, to communicate verbally. NLP can accommodate customers that are not financially literate or are less proficient with digital, and are in need of verbal assistance – thereby accommodating as many diverse users as possible.
It’s valuable to (live) chat
Understandably, customers will continue to appreciate and request interactions with human agents that may have a better understanding of how to resolve complex or sensitive issues. When combined with technology, live chat – supported by data generated from consumer patterns, trends, and financial history – is helping personalise experiences even more.
The pace of live chat allows agents to give quick answers to questions, solve problems faster, and assure an agent is there for the consumer at their convenience. Customers enjoy the experience of live chat so much that it produces the highest satisfaction levels at 73 per cent, followed by 61 per cent for email support and only 44 per cent for traditional phone support.
Over the last few years, chat with live agents has been the third most-used channel across major business sectors and has steadily grown – with younger generations choosing to use it more. Adoption rates for live chat among all consumers are set to accelerate, and will surpass email/web form by 2021, as more customers enjoy the efficient, human-like interactions it provides.
 Post-Coronavirus CX Scenarios, Teleperformance, April 20, 2020.
 Post-Coronavirus CX Scenarios, Teleperformance, April 20, 2020.