Digital humans for banking and finance

AI is causing a serious stir in banking and financial services.

But while chatbots and other digital channels are helping companies scale customer service, they’re sacrificing customer experience in the process. Digital humans put that back.

Learn how these leading financial institutions are using UneeQ to improve their CX

What makes us UneeQ

The banking and financial services industry used to be one of the most personal experiences a customer could have. Take banking, for example. You’d turn to your bank manager in times of joy when looking at your first home, or in tougher times to get financial help and advice. But today, that level of empathetic, valuable customer service has largely been sacrificed at the altar of digital scalability, speed and reduced costs.

Instead of a personal, face-to-face conversation – sharing momentous moments with customers, or supporting them with empathy and warmth – customers are now more likely to self serve, fill out an online form or message a chatbot. 

We think there’s a better way, by filling this digital experience divide with conversational AI – with digital human banking, insurance and financial assistants that replicate the best of human-to-human customer experiences.

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Communicate

Communicate with customers in a human way, creating interactions, not just transactions.

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Educate

Improve financial literacy, educate and improve the lives of customers – creating greater lifetime value.

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Embody

Embody your brand with a look, voice and personality, that speaks to your values and brand.

Digital humans working in financial services today

Rachel | The always-on mortgage expert

Arcus Lending put customer experience front and center, with Rachel available 24/7 to answer common questions about home loans.

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Josie | Simplifying superannuation at scale

ASB use Josie as a personable, always-available online specialist when customers need help with superannuation accounts.

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Mia | The master mortgage originator

Both seasoned buyers and those seeking a first-home loan can lean on Mia, UBank’s source of mortgage guidance and knowledge.

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Making business personal again

The only technology that combines the engagement of a human and the scalability and lower cost of digital solutions.

Embody the brand of your business

Don’t just hire your type of employee; build a digital workforce that lives and breathes your brand.

Fast integration into existing systems

Upgrade your chatbot or other conversational AI platform and give it a new lease of life, or integrate into your other existing systems for process efficiency.

Greater access for all

Create broader access for those who struggle with traditional channels, while offering judgement-free help for those with lower financial literacy.

  • “By bringing our digital human to life, we're giving customers a whole new way to interact with their online home loan application and completely challenging the perception of a digital bank.”
    UBANK
    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
  • “Speaking with my clone was an amazing experience. It is about exploring the particular limits of technology, exploring your own skills with clients and how they will respond. Ultimately, my clone might understand a lot more detail than I do.”
    UBS
    CHIEF ECONOMIST

HISTORY OF BANKING TECHNOLOGY REMOVING THE HUMAN TOUCH

The slow erosion of a personalized human experience in financial services has been happening over decades – as we’ve seen in banking, below, as just one example. Artificial intelligence is helping to put that back!

1950s

The first universal credit card made fast electronic transactions possible, so users could go into their financial institution to pay it off once a month, instead of more regularly withdrawing cash.

1960s

The invention of the ATM meant people could withdraw their money quickly without having to speak to a teller at all.

1970s

Electronic transfers started to emerge with file transfer protocols, which would really come into its own upon the invention of…

1980s

The internet changed everything – but not in the ‘80s. The advent of the internet sets the groundwork for a new way of customer interaction. Telephone banking also became commercially viable, reducing customer interaction to speech only. 

1990s

Electronic payments, allowing parties to send money between themselves, with financial institutions acting more as intermediaries in the background of the customer experience.

2000s

Online and mobile banking changed the way people interacted with their bank. Convenience made it even less likely for people to visit their local branch. Instead, customers started serving themselves online.

2010s

Third party applications started solving specific problems at scale, and began owning more of a financial institution’s customer relationships. Search engines became the go-to place for access to financial “expertise”. Meanwhile, customers became more likely to talk to a bank’s AI, their chatbot or voice assistant device, than visit a branch and speak to a teller or manager.

2020s

The 2020 pandemic shined an important light on how unprepared most banks and financial services institutions were to offer a personalized “in branch” human experience when online banking was all that existed. The digital divide grew significantly. But at least now we all better understand the value of a human touch made digital…

BRINGING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE BACK | DIGITAL HUMANS, CHATBOTS AND CONVERSATIONAL AI​

Artificial intelligence (AI) in banking, insurance and financial services is stirring up exciting changes, and digital humans are leading the way in brand and customer experience, beyond what can be accomplished by a chatbot alone.

Do you remember when you’d go to see your bank manager in person? Perhaps not. The traditional customer relationship for a bank, mortgage provider, insurer, credit union and other financial services has moved from human to website and mobile app, and it makes you wonder what’s been lost in the process.

It’s not hard to imagine; customers have gone from in-person conversation to “do it yourself online, “visit us in store” or, at best, “please stay on hold for an hour to speak to a real person”.

Customers are now more likely to try and speak to a chatbot or find their own answers online than they are to talk in person to someone who actually works at for the business. But more than four in five customers say they want more human experiences, not less.

So, what are many banks, insurers and financial services institutions doing about it? They’re turning to artificial intelligence (AI) – more specifically, conversational AI embodied in digital humans – to fill the customer experience gap that’s formed between online and in-person customer service. To create valuable and meaningful interactions, not just transactions.

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    Conversational banking and financial services – now with a human face

    Today, AI in banking and financial services is being embodied by digital humans, to elevate the human experience in digital banking. That means, these institutions no longer have to choose between scalable and low-cost digital channels or highly engaging human customer service – chatbots and self service or real people – they can offer the best of both with a digital human.

    UneeQ has integrated custom AI-powered brand ambassadors into global banks, leading insurers and tech-enabled challengers in the financial sector. This digital workforce of ambassadors recreates the best aspects of human interaction – tone, conversation and expression – to drive emotional connection and all the benefits that come with it.

    And the best part if you’re looking to innovate too? You won’t have to scrap your conversational AI, virtual assistant or chatbot, nor cause upheaval to your website. Conversational platforms, AI chatbots and the UneeQ platform work in unison.

    Read on to discover all you need to know about the past, present and future of digital humans, chatbots and AI in the banking, insurance and financial services sector.

    How is artificial intelligence used in banking, insurance and financial services?

    Arguably the most pivotal way AI is being used in the banking and financial sector is in customer experience and service, transforming how the everyday customer interacts with the brand, while keeping the cost to serve manageable.

    The “intelligent” part of AI means communication can be sophisticated enough to help most customers with their enquiries, much like a human customer service rep would, while the “artificial” portion supplies scalability and lower costs.

    The most obvious modern example of this can be found in the best banking chatbots, whose sophistication in natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language processing (NLP) make them particularly clever.

    How can AI chatbots help banks and financial services companies?

    Chatbot automation in banking et al has dramatically reduced the cost of customer service, particularly by offering an alternative to traditional call centers.

    Chatbots have cut customer service charges by some 30%, according to IBM, while being sophisticated enough to answer up to 80% of queries a customer may gave.

    When you consider the price of picking up the phone in your average call centre is between $35 to $50, AI banking chatbots are doing a good job at cost control – but, in truth, beyond that, we start seeing their limitations.

    If you’re a financial services business relying on your chatbot to offer meaningful experiences (particularly during emotional moments, like during the home loan process), you’re leaving your customers dramatically underwhelmed.

    How to improve AI banking and finance-focused chatbots

    We know, then, that banking chatbots are fast and cheap. But the tradeoff is they’re just not very engaging.

    Only 29% of baby boomers and 33% of millennials say chatbots are “friendly and approachable”, according to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report. Which are two characteristics you’d hope your former bank teller would have in spades, though chatbots are struggling to provide any real semblance of it.

    Overall, only 38% of older generations say chatbots offer even a “good” customer experience; and among typically tech-savvy millennials, less than half (45%) would say the same. 

    Even if “good” is what you aim for, chatbots don’t provide it in most people’s eyes.

    Digital humans in banking and financial services: the next logical step

    What’s different between your chatbot and the traditional customer service rep? 

    Well, on top of their intelligence (their IQ) your real life teller also has EQ (the emotional side of interactions). They use right-brain cognition to say things in an emotive way, with their tone of voice and body language. So whether they’re giving good news or bad, they can express excitement, sympathy, empathy and warmth in real time.

    A chatbot or voice assistant can never do that. In fact, the only two things that can today are humans and digital humans.

    Similarly, your people are the best possible representations of your brand. When hired well, your people greet your customers with a smile, build rapport and, yes, are friendly and approachable.

    These too are all traits that are inherent in digital humans. What’s more, your digital human will never take a sick day, lash out at a customer or leave your company for a competitor. They work around the clock, to scale when real people simply cannot, and to augment human staff to get the most out of their unique skill sets.

    As people (not just customers) we’re hard-wired for face-to-face communication, and we build emotional bonds with those we communicate with. Nothing beats a real human for that, but digital humans come close, while providing some unique benefits of their own.

    Digital humans in financial services are:

    • Constantly available for customers, accessible via the web or a physical in-store kiosk, so can live across various customer touchpoints and provide a consistent service.
    • Able to communicate not just in voice but through tone of voice and body language, making for a more complete experience than banking chatbots – or any other.
    • Scalable when humans simply aren’t. Virtually every customer can speak to a digital human at once.
    • Complete embodiments of the company’s brand. Everything from their looks to voice to personality and the clothes they wear can be brand-aligned. Plus, they’ll never have a bad day, react poorly nor be late for work.
    • Non-judgemental, meaning customers may be more likely to reach out for help, particularly with questions they feel “silly” asking around their finances. For the true value of this, you only need to look up the financial illiteracy statistics in your region.
    • Cost effective – they’re a digital technology after all – and deliver ROI by augmenting human capabilities, and freeing people up to tackle higher-value, higher-touch tasks.

    The future of AI chatbots and digital humans in financial institutions

    Gartner predicts that this decade will see some 85% of customer interactions going digital. A mere 15% of all the interactions customers have with a brand will be through humans.

    And that’s because the human touch was never scalable, until digital humans came along. 

    We’ve been pioneering digital humans around the world. In fact, you can see our work in our AI in financial services examples.

    TL;DR: The pros and cons of AI chatbots for the financial services industry

    OK, so that’s a lot of information to digest. In review, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of AI chatbots for the banking, insurance and financial industry.

    Pros:

    • Faster customer service 
    • Scalable to near-infinite customers
    • Available to users 24/7
    • Cost efficiency
    • Personalizable in the words it says to customers.

    Cons:

    • No real brand identity
    • No body language or tone of voice makes communication shallow
    • Lack of access to those who can’t, or find it difficult to, type and read
    • The experience is still not truly “owned” by the brand; in truth, competitors could replicate it.
    • Studies show chatbots lack friendliness, approachability and emotional connection.

    TL;DR: The advantages of AI digital humans in the financial services industry

    • Faster customer service 
    • Scalable to large numbers of customers across any device
    • Available to users 24/7
    • Cost efficiency
    • Complete brand embodiment (design your own employee)
    • Irreplicable by competitors, helping brands to “own” the experience
    • Personalizable in the words he or she says to customers
    • Plus more complete communication through body language and tone of voice
    • Greater access to those who can’t, or find it difficult to, type and read
    • Emotional connection with customers

Get a complete overview of digital humans

Unlock the what, why, and how of conversational AI and digital humans with our free eBook. 

Other industries we work with

Right now, UneeQ digital humans are working in the healthcare, education, telco and retail sectors to name just a few. Everything from their appearance to their personalities are being co-designed to create the most positive, lasting impact on users.

Retail

In-store or online, digital humans make retail about interactions, not just transactions, creating memorable, omnichannel customer experiences that keep users engaged.

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Healthcare

From improving health literacy and healthcare accessibility to easing the burden on front-line staff, digital humans educate and inform, while combining the best of in-person and digital care.

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Digital humans in banking and financial services | Solve today’s problems and scale for tomorrow

The advance of AI has led it from the realms of science fiction into that of research and development, and most recently into building use cases of AI in banking and financial services. But, the industry needs to be more than functional, which is exactly where experiential AI solutions like digital humans come in.

In a nut-shell, digital humans are the only solution that can combine the efficiency and convenience of automation technology with some of the personal connections provided by physical employees. And they can do so while helping to solve some of the biggest modern workforce challenges – skill gaps, high cost-to-serve etc.

UneeQ digital humans are employed all over the world in a range of banking and financial services scenarios. And our form of conversational AI couldn’t be simpler if you’re looking to take that all-important first step. In fact, if you already have a chatbot, you’re well on your way to employing your first digital human.

If you’re yet to launch such a technology, or would like to learn more about how a digital human could work for your business; we’d love to help.