Four Ways Banking Bots Drive Smarter Conversations

AI, Bots, Voice

Four Ways Banking Bots Drive Smarter Conversations

By 6 Minute Read

Banking Bots offers Financial Services the Opportunity to Own the Customer Conversation.

Over recent decades, technology has transformed how we bank, where we bank, and when we bank.

From the introduction of ATMs almost sixty years ago to the first wave of online or internet banking in the early 1980s, technology-led innovation has made banking more convenient and more automated. The traditional main street banks where everyday transactions were discussed and performed with familiar banking staff during banking hours have gradually been replaced by mobile and computer devices where interaction is via touchscreens, keyboards, clicks, and swipes, taking place anytime, anywhere.

Where once a customer needed to complete a slip of paper with multiple fields of information and queue at a teller window to transfer money, this now happens in a couple of keystrokes and clicks at any time of the day or night with virtual banking apps like Venmo, Paypal, or Google Pay. It is also notable that these vendors are not the familiar banking brands, another major disruption that the sector has faced as digital technologies lowered the once insurmountable barriers to entry.

And if banks thought that the wave of digital transformation and disruption was behind them, they now are facing yet another major innovation shift as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes so accessible that it can be implemented in much easier and more powerful ways. The power of smart conversations, enabled by AI and voice-activated devices like Siri, Echo, Cortana, Google Home or message-based interfaces such as SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack, offer a whole new customer experience paradigm. This so-called, conversational AI, has the potential to change, yet again, how consumers engage with their banking partners and how banks fulfill their needs in faster, more frictionless, and more intelligent ways.

For banks, conversational AI represents one of the most significant shifts towards customers using natural language to do things like make a payment, check a bank balance, apply for a loan, transfer funds, convert currency, report a lost or stolen card, verify recent transactions, report fraud, and many more customer-facing banking services and financial transactions, without the need for a human agent. By putting chat back into customer interactions, banking brands will be able to have a true voice and build their identity through smart conversations. Chat will also allow banks to understand exactly what their customers want rather than trying to guess their needs and guide them through a set of form-filling, webpage clicks, dropdown menus, or other interfaces. Banks that can enhance their conversational IQ through the underlying natural language processing (NLP) and AI capabilities have a huge opportunity to own the customer conversation and build greater brand awareness and loyalty.

Banking Bots: Breaking Down The Silos

Think of any customer-facing interaction or process across banking departments and you can uncover a myriad of opportunities to transform the experience through chat and AI. It’s not just about customer service use cases and the contact center, where many of today’s chatbot solutions are focused. Rather, bots can be injected across the business value chain and across various customer touch points, from new product development to customer acquisition, risk management, loyalty and rewards programs, collections management and more.

Just taking a customer service or other departmental view of the bot world is risking a lost opportunity to use chat more fluidly in addressing customer’s needs. Rather than using bots to just further automate specific tasks and make them available 24/7, there are far-reaching opportunities to think of chat in terms of how it can transform customer engagement across the banking organization by moving the customer across channels and letting the conversation flow call on different business processes to fulfill their need. For example, a customer may request their bank balance by voice over Siri. The account bot can move the conversation to the customer’s preferred messaging channel, sending them the status of their account balance but can then use the chat to invoke other bots, for example, to remind the customer of an upcoming due date for their card payment, or to promote a new product or offer, or just simple ask the customer if they have any other banking need. Since conversations are more fluid and less structured they lend themselves to more versatile engagement. They also remove a lot of the friction that frustrates customer in getting multiple tasks completed by enabling this in a single conversational session.

Four Examples of How Conversational AI Creates Value for Banks

By supplementing or, in some cases, replacing human interactions with smart bots, many customer-facing banking engagements can be made available 24/7 and handled in more automated and efficient ways. Individual bots that have specific missions and perform certain tasks can be deployed to do this but in many cases, especially where the customer journey involves multiple steps, it will take a few different bots working together to fulfill the customer need. To the customer, however, this appears as a single seamless chatbot.

At ServisBOT, our Army of Bots, is comprised of individual bots each with specific roles as they relate to the use case. Each bot is designed with a very targeted or specific business purpose with a goal of achieving a specific outcome. This makes them easy to deploy while allowing them to communicate with other bots to deliver combined capabilities.

Here are four different but powerful examples of banking bots and how they add value.

  1. Application and Onboarding Bots: Take the example of applying for a bank loan or a credit card. Often there is an application process that a customer goes through before being pre-approved, followed by a more rigorous onboarding process where the necessary proof documentation and other information is gathered in order for full approval to be issued. The journey from initial application to having a loan approved can be complex, requiring multiple steps and hand offs that are fraught with friction and frustration. Even in online applications it can be difficult to guide customers efficiently through the process, respond to their queries immediately, and bring them through to completion without them dropping or interrupting the web session. And dropped customers can mean lost customers as they opt for a different vendor. Now consider an Application or Onboarding Bot where the customer can initiate the application in their own time and at their own pace without having to visit a bank branch, wait for a contact center agent, or step through a complex web-based process. AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities enable smart bots take a customer through this journey and set of tasks so that they can get their approval in a single conversation.The quicker and easier you can get a customer onboard and process their loan application, the faster the bank can generate revenue from that service and not lose that customer to a competitor. 
  2. Outbound and Campaign Bots: Conversational AI is not just about responding to inbound requests but can also be used to run outbound campaigns or handle any type of outreach, from loyalty programs to collections and fraud management. Banks continue to be under pressure to retain and grow their customer base, up-selling and cross-selling different products and services and building loyalty. Outbound sales and marketing campaigns can be handled by bots to target specific customer segments and sign them up to new products or loyalty programs. These can be run as standalone campaigns or the bot can be injected into different customer engagements, where appropriate. For example, if a customer requests an increase on their credit card limit because they will be traveling abroad it can be an opportunity to promote a travel insurance offer within the same chat session. And besides campaigns, operational bots can also reach out proactively to customers to collect late payments, alert them to fraud activity, or conduct a satisfaction survey. Likewise these can be injected into other suitable customer conversations as the flow determines.
  3. Account and Customer Service Bots:  An account bot makes it easy for customers to manage the details of their accounts and make account-related requests in a single frictionless conversation. The bot can handle user authentication, automate the necessary business tasks that match the intent, and add intelligence to the conversation by accessing the information needed to execute the tasks. As with all bots, their ability to work across multiple channels from voice-activated devices to SMS, messaging, web, and email means that they can move the conversation from one channel to another more convenient channel where the conversation can continue. There is a whole army of customer service bots that can be deployed for other service-based roles, from complaints handling to FAQs, resetting logins and passwords, tracking a service request, or fetching a document or other information. And one particularly useful service bot is Q-Jump, which avoids customers waiting on hold for an agent to be available or for the contact center to be open for operations, by automatically transferring them to the bot who can take a message, respond if possible or schedule a callback.
  4. Security and Compliance: Bots provide opportunities for banks to further automate and bring more intelligence to processes that are governed by regulatory requirements or security. Take fraud detection or money laundering risks that incur huge losses and reputation damage for banks. Or take the requirements of GDPR in Europe in protecting customer data. By applying conversational AI technologies, a more proactive approach to preventing and detecting risks or compliance failures can be employed. AI can power the conversations with customers or affiliates, automate the required tasks, and through experience become even smarter at risk and compliance management, all at a lower cost.

Conversational AI has the power to transform how banks engage with customers so they can create memorable and brand-building experiences that foster customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty. 

Recommended Reading: The Fundamentals of a Successful Chatbot Strategy

To read more about how bots can be a simple, yet powerful, way to transform customer engagement. Download our eBook: 10 Use Cases for an Army of Bots in Customer Engagement.

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