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