Digital Dialog or Guided Conversation?

Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve Customer Experience in Banking

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a disruptive technology gaining widespread adoption across many industries, including banking and financial services. If you ask someone for an example of AI, you might hear responses such as product recommendations (Amazon), voice recognition (Alexa and Siri), self-driving cars (Tesla) or machine learning (Watson, the I.B.M. computer that won on Jeopardy). These familiar experiences illustrate how an extensive database can be accessed in real-time and generate responses with customized information.

But in practical terms, how can AI help improve the customer experience for banking customers? What’s the role of AI in digital conversations and customer service? Adoption of AI brings an essential best practice into the customer journey for banks transitioning from offline operations to chat bots to guided conversations in order to grow customer relationships.

Benefits of AI in Banks and Credit Unions

AI can improve the financial journey for customers by facilitating an omnichannel experience, as recently noted by GoodData senior content writer Harry Dix.

“In order to deliver a consistent, seamless customer experience across all channels – direct or digital – a financial organization can leverage machine learning to facilitate a holistic approach,” Dix explains. “For example, for a retail bank that offers its services through both brick and mortar and online channels across various business units, AI can quickly act on the consolidated customer data from the bank’s internal and external systems with personalized service and recommendations and ensure a seamless customer experience across all business channels.”

The applications that make AI useful depend on incorporating a natural conversation to allow the right information to be gathered about the customer. That’s why guided conversation tools underpin the most effective digital and AI-focused banking services.

Bank employees should look at AI and digital conversation tools as facilitators of a best practice approach in customer engagement. AI brings time-saving benefits such as updating customer records and supporting better engagement with customers to offer relevant, personalized recommendations.

Digital Transformation in Banks

The pandemic certainly had an impact on digital transformation plans for financial institutions, accelerating digital transitions as restrictions closed branches and limited in-person interactions. During this time, the industry saw a rise in usage of online banking, apps and AI-driven chatbots. Digital conversations rose to preserve ongoing customer relationships while building new ones.

Cornerstone Advisors found that 56% of banks and credit unions had launched a digital transformation strategy or initiative prior to 2020. However, among those that believe that they’re at least half-way through completing their strategy, only slightly more than a quarter have deployed digital conversation technology.

cornerstone advisors chart
Source: Cornerstone Advisors

This makes no sense to author Ron Shevlin. He poses an interesting question: “How can a bank be half-way or more through completing its digital transformation strategy and not have deployed — or even thought about deploying — a foundational digital technology like conversational AI?”

Many banks recognize the importance of personalization in customer interactions, but some think of it too narrowly, in terms of personalized messages. “The smart banks understand that good personalization requires personalized conversations,” concludes Shevlin.

Genuine customer engagement requires a digital customer engagement platform that guides bank and credit union staff through deep customer conversations.

Ron Shevlin, Forbes

Guided Conversations vs Chatbots

Clearly, chatbots are becoming increasingly more popular, but they are just one tactic of the conversational AI market, which generated $3.2 billion in 2018 and is predicted to reach $15 billion in 2024. Conversational AI refers to the application of intelligent virtual assistants (IVA), intelligent interactive voice response (IVR) and chatbots for automating interactions with customers and creating a personalized customer experience.

“Conversational banking is a way of communicating with customers through text or voice where a robot answers queries and nudges customers in the right direction,” FinTech writer Michelle Deery explains.

It’s important to understand the difference between what a chatbot generates (digital dialog) and a guided conversation. Chatbots focus on executing transactions or specific tasks while guided conversations use customer-provided information to drive meaningful interactions that lead to value-based decisions.

Chatbots are good for offering basic FAQ information, but not as good at giving customers what they need to make a financial decision. Guided conversations help bankers engage with customers on a more meaningful level.

The types of digital conversations in banking that can be facilitated with chat bots include:

  1. Helping customers send money
  2. Helping customers check balances
  3. Completing tasks more quickly
  4. Answering basic questions
  5. Sending useful reminders

For more complex decisions about financial growth and planning, guided conversations help banks deliver the right products at the right time, ensuring a more streamlined and positive customer experience, whether used online, in branches, through remote video banking or in call centers. Guided conversations uncover needs while digitally guiding the consumer and banker to the services to that best enhance, fulfill and achieve financial wellness.

Meeting Customers Where They Are in the Financial Journey

Collecting information from customers can be done in a variety of ways both in-person and via self-serve tools. You can spark customer conversations digitally for user convenience while ensuring the data that’s captured is maximized and applied to all future interactions. This will allow for deeper, more relevant conversations that help identify the right mix of products and services based on current needs. Offering the right solutions at the right time is crucial to achieving both satisfaction and loyalty among customers.

Chatbots are a terrific addition to a bank or credit union’s technology arsenal. However, chatbots cannot engage with customers on the meaningful, personalized level that customers crave today. Genuine customer engagement requires a digital customer engagement platform that guides bank and credit union staff through deep customer conversations.

Ready to Initiate Guided Conversations?

Elevate customer experience and add value to the financial journey. Gain true insights that can be applied consistently and without bias. Contact us today to implement guided conversations and help your staff offer the right solutions to every customer with accuracy.

Ignite Sales is the leader in digital customer engagement, using artificial intelligence for engaging analytics to facilitate growth, deepen product penetration and increase satisfaction levels of bankers and customers.

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