Humanizing digital banking through conversational AI

Published November 20, 2020

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is something most of us encounter in our everyday lives without even knowing it. But what exactly is AI? 

It might surprise you to know AI isn’t just one thing. As defined by Accenture, it’s a “constellation of technologies—from machine learning to natural language processing—that allows machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn.” In the simplest of terms, the core purpose of AI is to impart human intelligence to machines and technology—to make them more human-like.

And it shows up in all kinds of ways.

Those noise-canceling headphones you looked at online a few days ago? Now they show up in an ad in your social media feed.  

Maybe it’s the recommended drama series that appears in your Hulu account.   

Or how your smart thermostat adjusts the temperature so the house is just like you like it—right before you arrive home from work. 

Or asking Alexa if you remembered to shut the garage door. 

That’s all AI. It’s what makes it possible to offer immediate, intelligent insights and answers. It also enables personalized recommendations, guidance and offers based on interests and habits.

AI in financial services


In financial services, AI can transform experiences to be more efficient from the front counter to the back office and across channels. Think: conversational banking (front office), fraud management (middle office) or credit underwriting (back office).

There are many ways FIs can use AI to create efficiencies, provide personalized service and engage customers to help them discover new products and services.

A report by Business Insider Intelligence reveals FIs are using AI in the front office for customer identification and authentication, simulating employees using chatbots and voice assistants, and providing individualized recommendations and support.

Why an intelligent virtual assistant should be a priority for FIs


It’s no secret that digital customers want their needs addressed immediately. They don’t want to wait. And they don’t want to pick up the phone or drive to a branch.

But most FIs don’t have the vast resources standing by to answer every inquiry—simple or complex—in a swift and timely manner. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, a surprising 24 percent of companies take longer than 24 hours to respond to their customers—and 23 percent leave them hanging, never to respond. 

According to Harvard Business Review, a surprising 24 percent of companies take longer than 24 hours to respond to their customers—and 23 percent leave them hanging, never to respond.

In addition to speed, customers want personalized advice and guidance based on their behaviors and interests. One in two consumers wants customized advice based on their individual circumstances. Yet just over one-third of mobile bankers feel their FI provides personalized content and recommendations to help them better understand and manage their finances. 

Customers are demanding more. And FIs want to deliver. To do so means being able to provide here-and-now, individualized support in the digital channel. And to better anticipate the needs of their customers.

That’s where conversational AI—or intelligent virtual assistants—can shine. Intelligent virtual assistants can take the burden off call center and branch staff—even live chat agents. They can introduce substantial cost savings for FIs by lessening the volume of inquiries and support flowing through those channels. 

But even more, they can help FIs provide the differentiated, human-like digital channel experiences customers crave.

Employing a conversational AI strategy is possible with the right technology vendor. With the proper partner, the technology can analyze data to decipher what the user needs, in advance, so it feels like interacting with a live human being and getting that personalized assistance.

Related: Meeting the Moment: Conversational AI and the Digital Banking Experience

Conversational AI in banking


There are three main areas in financial services where an intelligent virtual assistant can take conversations to a new level of engagement and customer satisfaction. 

Servicing

By allowing customers to make inquiries via a virtual assistant, FIs can improve operational efficiencies—reducing call center volume and wait times. 

For example, they may ask: 

  • What’s my checking account balance? 
  • Where’s the nearest ATM? 
  • How do I make a mobile deposit? 

Engaging

An intelligent virtual assistant can also enable FIs to provide additional banking services to customers to strengthen engagement and brand loyalty. 

For example, allowing customers to: 

  • Create, track and receive custom notifications on personal financial goals 
  • Get upcoming payment alerts  
  • Initiate a payment in response to an alert 

Acquiring

They can also help customers discover relevant products and services in a timely and contextual manner to increase their value and retention.

For example, allowing them to:  

  • Apply for a new loan or credit card  
  • Activate a credit card 
  • Increase their credit limit 

And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

In a time when consumers are driving digital transformation—new, digital engagement strategies are being forced to move forward at lightning speed. In this rapidly changing environment, intelligent virtual assistants can make an immediate impact. And the opportunities are endless.

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Gartner Report: Key Design Principles and Building Blocks for a Robust Digital Banking Platform.

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