In a demand-driven world, businesses are increasingly seeking out ways to provide their customers with instant access to information. And as younger, digital-native clients move into the market for financial services as both a consumer, and as professionals, a digital-first approach to customer service has never been more required.
What’s driving change?
The rise of smaller, more agile, competitors is putting pressure on financial service businesses to provide improved and increased access to advice through more customer-centric journeys and hyper-personalised interactions. While fintech startups have innovated out of a need to provide customer service at scale, it’s motivating an industry-wide desire to ditch outdated technology and processes.
What we’re seeing now is the use of multi-channel touch points, using platforms that are more intuitive for today’s digitally savvy audience. Increasingly, financial services are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and combining it with the popularity of messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Skype to engage with their customers.
The rise of the bot
Chatbots are conversational interfaces that conduct automated conversations with your customers, either through text or speech. They act as a virtual assistant, providing a real-time dialogue, with the intention of not only resolving immediate issues, but also using AI algorithms to ‘learn’, and therefore improve and refine its ability to help users.
For financial service providers, chatbots are an opportunity to boost engagement and improve service quality with more personal experiences. It's because of this personalisation that we tend to speak about digital employees rather than chatbots. The words ‘personal experience’ and ‘automated bot’ may seem counter-intuitive sitting in the same sentence, but the advantage of digital employees is that they’re able to quickly understand a customer’s need, and immediately return the information they’re seeking.
For your customers, there’s no need to navigate cumbersome apps, websites, or call centre menu options to access information or perform basic tasks. They essentially have access to an ‘always on’ assistant, no matter where they are, or when they need help. It’s a return to a more intuitive way to communicate - with a question-answer conversation structure - and one that we’re already accustomed to using daily in our personal messaging platforms.
And for your business? Well, you’ve just provided your customer with an accessible means of communicating, returning accurate information or performing simple actions, at significantly lower cost than it would to have a human provide the same service within restricted business hours.
With an abundance of data already at your fingertips, and methodical, established processes within your business, chatbots have the potential to automate repetitive and time-consuming questions or tasks.
An example of this is Australian insurance comparator, Lifebroker, who use a chatbot (called Alfred) to offer comprehensive insurance options for customers, collect and update customer information, and even make a joke.
As chatbots get to understand user needs and behaviour, you can also begin to offer customers more personalised marketing, bringing targeted products or services to the right people, at exactly the right time.
Making chatbots work for your business
While chatbot development is happening quickly, in many instances customer experience is lagging. Unfortunately, not all chatbots are created equal, and in the financial services sector, there is little room for errors or frustrating misunderstandings.
This is where a true understanding of your customers is critical, and why starting with a user experience (UX) framework is absolutely necessary to ensure the conversations built into your chatbot are relevant to your customer. From there, it’s about testing and iterating to ensure your bot is delivering a consistent and efficient interaction.
Well-built chatbots have the ability to manage multi-topic conversations without getting confused, can identify when conversations start to go off the rails and know when it’s time to hand over to a real person. At Jade we use crowd-learning to make our bots smarter. That means that when we see a trend or learn something new about conversations, we add it to the JadeBot platform, so every bot connected to the platform improves its conversational skills, too.
Of course many will be raising the question about security - an issue of obvious concern to any financial institution. However, with a chatbot, sensitive information, like passwords and personal details, are restricted from being passed on to third parties, keeping conversations secure and compliant.
The future is already here
The reality is that those in the financial services industry who haven’t already considered how AI fits into their customer service journey are falling behind.
Forward-thinking organisations understand that this capability will come to play a huge part in their overall brand perception. And as digital consumers seek frictionless engagements, their ability to communicate with you could become not only a point of contention, but also retention.
Those who can integrate and automate contextual conversations across channels will be the ones who see success, by increasing the speed, accuracy and efficiency of processes and freeing up staff to focus on more valuable customer interactions.
Learn more about the benefits chatbots could bring to your business
Download our eBook, 'Digital Employees, A whole new conversation'; where we go into more detail on how chatbots can make the most of your data, deliver a greater customer experience and enhance your digital transformation.