It is predicted that in the near future, a large proportion of customer interactions with their bank will be driven by artificial intelligence. There is certainly a big buzz in the air in the financial software industry as new banking entrants have sought competitive advantage through technology. Right up there being spoken about are robots, chatbots, robo-advice, and artificial intelligence.
We know that the older generation are typically keener on going into a branch and speaking with a human advisor face to face. However, as bank branches dwindle in number, and new banking entrants often don’t even have a high-street footprint, customers will be forced to rethink the way they bank. The younger generation (let’s call them the millennials) tend to favour an online experience, and want the immediacy of getting help and advice when and where they need it – usually instantaneously. For this group of tech savvy individuals, they want to interact online and are as comfortable, if not more comfortable, if it is a computer rather than a human managing their banking business. Furthermore, a chatbot should learn about the customer and adapt to their preferences and past behaviours, which should make it an incredibly useful tool.
From a Bank’s perspective, it allows for easier data capture, less opportunity for inappropriate advice provided by employees, and also a reduction in salaries. Clearly it must be recognised that there will be an initial investment in the technology, and ongoing costs of ownership. However now it should not matter where customers are in the world or what time zone they are in – they will still be able to bank.
What makes a great chatbot?
- It has access to all relevant bank data so that it can provide information that the customer needs without having to visit branch or calling telephone banking.
- It is seamlessly integrated with other bank systems such as security and authentication.
- It pushes helpful content to the customer. For example updates on interest rates or products that it believes from the customers preferences that they might be interested in.
- It becomes better over time at predicting the needs of the customer.
- It can integrate with messaging services.
The advances in artificial intelligence technology have made chatbots a reality, and we should expect to see them being introduced imminently in the banking sector. For some customers this will not be a welcome change and they will continue to demand human interaction. However, there is a large body of consumers who do want the flexibility and the advantages a chatbot can offer them.
Photograph by Michele M.F.