During the past decade, the financial industry has undergone massive technology-led change. Whether in banking, trading or payments, financial institutions are servicing more clients, lending more funds, and processing more transactions than ever before. With more and more services and financial actions delegated online, and some innovative online-only banks doing away with a physical presence completely, customer interactions and expectations are also undergoing a transformation.
Today, most consumers rarely visit their bank branches anymore but are instead banking on their phones, via apps, and on the web — transferring money with the push of a button and cashing checks by taking their photos. With this digitization of banking services, customers are now expecting absolute availability, better services, seamless experiences regardless of channel, and more value for their money. And since the digitized nature of financing is also facilitating a rapid switch of providers, financial institutions which don’t deliver on customers’ expectations are witnessing rapid and increasing churn.
At the core of this paradigm shift is AI-based technology. By providing capabilities such as facial recognition, natural language processing, voice recognition, anomaly detection and improved authentication processes and security, Artificial Intelligence is the foundation on which digital financial capabilities are built. But this is just the start of the transformation in banking. AI has the ability to completely change and improve the financial customer experience, both at customer facing touch points, and at the infrastructure level. So, what does the future of AI customer service experience look like? Let’s take that journey.
How to improve customer service in banks?
Let’s start with opening an account, which has historically been a time-consuming and complex undertaking, in which physical presence at a bank branch is required. With AI customer service, which can authenticate the validity of IDs, auto populate form fields, perform live face recognition, and conduct quick credit checks, the process of opening a bank account can drop down to 15 minutes instead of 22 days.
Once the account is open, servicing the account will also look completely different for the customer. Instead of long wait times to speak with a representative, customers can receive immediate support with AI capabilities. Smart chatbots deployed in banking apps, on websites, and social media, can quickly provide customers with accurate answers. Thanks to personal assistant technology such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, more and more consumers are happy to interact with services that they know are not backed by humans. Smart FAQs, which provide responsive answers to specific questions, can also offer customers faster and more accurate assistance. Personalized services can suggest tailored offerings based on credit card usage, transactions, salary, personal interests, and more. AI systems that monitor individual customer behavior can offer “nudges”, assistance, streamlined onboarding for new services and apps, and much more.
Customer representatives are still incredibly important in the customer journey. However, their role is shifting to providing more specialized financial customer service. These customer representative experts too will be supported by AI tools that improve the level of service, its speed and accuracy, for example by observing the types of calls coming into the customer support team. Manual methodologies only offer the customer support team the option to try to analyze all the reports generated by all the service agents, and hope to notice trends — but this is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process, prone to bias and errors and far from accurate. AI-based customer service platforms offer immediate alerts on customer care trends, enabling teams to escalate the issue to supervisors much sooner than had it been left to the odd chance that someone would spot the issue using a manual process. The sooner an issue is raised, the sooner it can be investigated and, if necessary, remediated.
In short: wherever a customer touch point exists, AI-based technologies are leveraged by banking institutions to provide the swiftest and most streamlined customer experience possible.
Safer, personalized, and always on
But AI to improve customer experience isn’t limited to the “frontend” of the digital financial experience. Behind the scenes, AI is improving fintech’s ability to deliver constant availability and quickly detect and resolve usability issues or malicious activity against the company’s applications and systems. AI-driven monitoring solutions, for example, provide early fraud detection, helping to reduce false positives and improve the accuracy of identifying actual fraud cases.
AI tools for improved fraud detection include monitoring significant changes in behavior and using face recognition as authentication and verification processes. Historically, anti-fraud solutions were rules-based, often relying on siloed data and known use-cases, and therefore unable to detect new bad actors and fraud instances. By adopting machine learning based real time fraud solutions, that are capable of performing sub-millisecond latency analysis of transactions, banks can use behavioral risk models that detect fraudulent transactions, diagnose issues early, resolve them quickly, and take preemptive actions before they turn into crises. This not only improves security, but also increases customer trust, protects the brand’s reputation, and reduces customer churn.
AI also facilitates the ability to offer and deliver supplemental banking services, such as loans and collections. Applying for loans was another tedious task with a long turnaround time. But with AI, customers can now get a loan approval in only 2 days, instead of 10-15 days, which can significantly improve customer satisfaction. For collections, AI can also help to personalize this process to reduce unwanted friction and customer stress. Instead of receiving random calls at inconvenient times, AI systems can suggest the best times to reach a customer and also offer tailored payment arrangements personalized to the specific customer.
AI effectively augments and automates decision-making in operations and in customer experience processes where humans can’t deal with the volume and velocity of data. Through the lifecycle of a customer’s relationships with a bank, AI can be used to create more value, take the nuisance and worry out of banking, and provide a more secure and streamlined experience. Financial services companies that prioritize AI-based technology are poised to deliver flawless customer experience, revenue optimization and operational excellence.
Putting AI-based technology first
With AI integrated into all aspects of the banking business, the customer experience will evolve. AI in banking customer service will enable financial institutions to provide faster and better service, while customers will be more satisfied with their banking experience. By monitoring payments order execution, clearing and settlements, instances of fraud, customer experience issues and trends in customer care, AI-based solutions enable banks and fintechs to get to the problem before the customer does, ensuring improved customer satisfaction and a related decrease in churn and increase in revenues.
Most major financial institutions are well aware of the imperative for change and have embarked on the necessary transformation from manual to AI-based automated processes. Those who won’t replatform risk becoming uncompetitive against the financial services companies who can be faster, cheaper and more customer-focused by putting AI-based technology first.
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