Conversational Banking – Will the AI Disrupt the Way We Interact With Banks?
August 19, 2020
Some ten years ago, mobile banking apps brought considerable changes in the way we do our banking. Communicating with the bank’s staff reduced dramatically, as well as visits to the banks. Impersonal but convenient.
And that’s great…but…when handling finances, customers still crave to talk – to have a conversation about important questions they have. Some human traits will always remain the same, although the means and channels might vary – like we see the increased use of messaging apps and voice-activated services on our mobile phones – people still talk, just differently.
If you want to talk to a bank, what are your options today?
- Visit the branch – mind the working hours, endure the queue and as it happens right now, wear the mask the entire time.
- Try your luck with the contact center – listening to the robotic voice, waiting again, obeying working hours. And if you are lucky, there is a Video platform available – when you get your turn.
- Chat with, well…not such an intelligent machine.
None of these options are inviting. And banks are painfully aware that customers are seeking conversation, which got lost during the first years of mobile banking apps use.
These needs and the more mature development of AI delivered a new concept, believed to bring the next banking disruption – Conversational Banking
What is Conversational Banking?
Conversational Banking is a new, intelligent non-human way to interact with the bank about your finances using a simple texting app or voice-based services you already know. Instead of tapping or clicking, with conversational banking, you can talk to a bank as if it were a person – chatting through the application you would typically use for your contacts or asking questions through voice apps. Instead of browsing through an app, you can now ask questions like „What is my balance? “or „What kind of a loan would you recommend for buying a boat? “, transfer money and execute transactions as you would do with a human teller.
It brings a human feel to digital interactions and allows the customer to have a natural, two-way communication with the bank at any hour, from any location. Apart from convenience, it is excellent progress to onboard non-digital natives to digital banking.
How can technology simulate human interaction?
Most of the chatbots we encountered have limited capabilities. Some are merely interactive replacements of the static FAQ or low-cost/limited service alternatives to human-based customer services via chat. While some are capable to answer pre-trained FAQs, the limitations of the technology behind the curtains usually means they are only capable to understand pre-trained answers/keywords as well. This provides a robotic simulation of a conversation that feels like using a command-line tool or an IVR instead of talking to a human.
Conversational Banking is powered by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, (ML) and natural language processing (NLP). Conversational Banking representatives — became contextually aware virtual assistants that can be trained to ask and answer questions in familiar, conversational language. Unlike chatbots, they can understand the meaning of the questions and help out the customers in the best way within their domain knowledge. This two-way interaction allows the financial institutions to reintroduce a personal voice and feel to mobile money management and financial planning.
Conversational banking provides a more personal interface (Conversational User Interface or CUI) with several benefits for both –
- natively mobile-first and perfectly suited for easy interactions on the move
- suitable both for digital and under-digitized customers
- asynchronous so users can dip in and out of conversations as the demands of daily life require
- instantly available within their favorite messaging apps (Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp…)
- fast on-boarding, no installations thus no download walls
- each interaction can be adapted to reflect the bank’s brand identity and customer’s profile
- reducing the cost and friction of trying out new services, conversational interfaces bring forward an entirely new era of lightweight experimentation
- conversational banking representatives allow banks to focus on delivering value, rather than creating bespoke interfaces for each app.
- providing 24/7 support to an unlimited number of customers at the same time
Banks are recognizing the value of conversational banking in creating competitive edge.
Forward-thinking banks are using such conversational bank representatives to look beyond transactional services and traditional iconic user Interfaces. The next-gen, AI-powered representatives are the first step to supporting all banking processes including sales, care and advice, with higher levels of personalization, user-friendliness and automation.
Think about the perfect human assistant…banks can use AI-representatives not only to deliver services and financial products but also a full concierge service. Think about a lifestyle manager, personal travel adviser and a home emergency service that helps people to research holidays, book tickets and sort out gifts…all this is just one question away.
And while it should be transparent that these representatives will not be able to answer all of the questions, they will significantly reduce the number of personal interactions while still providing a personal experience on a human level. Suitable for the customers, and good for the bank’s employees, who will have more time to deal with special questions and requests.