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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often portrayed in the media as a technology that exists only in the future, with news stories on the topic supported by images from Star Trek or other science fiction. The reality is far more exciting: AI is actually a present-day technology that is becoming more powerful each month, creating many new opportunities for companies that want to explore how this type of analysis can improve their customer experience.
The benefits for banks can be startling. Imagine if your technology system could analyse the behaviour of every customer, allowing your people to make better decisions by offering supportive intelligence. Imagine if those in the team offering advice directly to clients were also supported by intelligent data systems that could help to ensure that the advice is consistent and correct. Banks applying these technologies can reduce risk and improve the customer experience at the same time.
Direct customer service interactions can also become better. Instead of offering an IVR to telephone banking customers, imagine just allowing customers to speak using natural language with the system able to determine what the customer wants. All these abilities are available and can be deployed for banks that want to explore removing redundant steps from customer interactions.
By utilising AI, banks can offer 24/7/365 customer service that is risk compliant and easy to access. In addition, the system will learn from every interaction. Every new type of enquiry or new way of answering a question can be recorded so the entire system learns constantly. Even if best practices are shared amongst the team, it’s impossible for any individual to learn from every single customer interaction; but it is possible within an AI environment.
This concept of “Deep Learning” will transform the customer experience in UK banks over the next few years. “Robo-advisors” already exist in the investment industry, creating share price forecasts based on vast amounts of data and tailoring advice to fit the risk profile of each customer. Using AI in this way doesn’t require direct customer interaction, just number crunching, but the real advances in the coming years will be the way that these intelligent systems can directly interact with customers.
Existing AI robot systems, such as Amelia from IPsoft or Nina from Nuance, have already demonstrated their ability to process voice enquiries from customers on financial products. A recent pilot by a mortgage broker using Amelia found that the system could automatically respond to about 90% of the most common 150 questions, escalating the enquiry to a human advisor when it was not 100% sure how to answer the customer. A test using Nina at SwedBank found that the robot handled 30,000 customer conversations in the first month, with 78% of those interactions resolved during the first contact.
For customers this is great news. It means that their bank becomes far more accessible than ever before, with advice being available at any time. For the banks there is the ability to offer far more complex services to customers automatically, allowing the human advisors to step in only where there is some doubt about the advice to be offered. This also increases risk compliance dramatically as the system will always factor in compliance regulations when interacting with clients.
Some customers fear this level of automation and intelligence, but many will find that they get a much more efficient service when these systems are deployed. For example, what happens when you lose your credit card? Usually that means a call to the bank’s security team and a long wait for help after selecting your way through an IVR. If you could just call and say “I lost my credit card” then the automated systems would immediately ask you to confirm the card details; the benefits to both bank and customer are obvious.
Intelligent systems are already here in many areas of banking. As the interaction layer improves we will see AI transforming the customer experience and making banking a truly 24/7 service.
What are your thoughts on AI in retail banking? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know.
Author: Helen Murray