Should retailers fear AI or is it now essential?
For a long time, I have talked about artificial intelligence as an enabling tool that should help to improve the customer experience. It’s a...
Recent research from McKinsey & Company suggests that the bank of the future will be entirely driven by customer experience and personalisation. McKinsey director Somesh Khanna explains:
“Digital capabilities can turn the customer journey into something that’s highly personalised. It’s the way in which the device connects with the interaction that you have with a branch teller, how that connects with the messages you get as a customer with your mailbox, and all of that being delivered in a way that is seamless, that knows you, that recognises you, that rewards you for your relationship with the bank. There’s a lot of amazing stuff that will likely happen—and is happening today in that space. And I think there will be a huge opportunity for banks to innovate.”
It’s clear that retail banks face an enormous challenge. Although they have been around for hundreds of years and have a customer base in the millions, financial technology (fintech) is creating an entirely new way to deliver banking services. New start-up companies can pick off specific banking services, like foreign exchange or loans, and offer a better service at a better price using the app store on smartphones to deliver their services.
Of course, the start-ups face the challenge of acquiring customers. The banks have been around a long time and there is great customer trust in their brands; but things are starting to shift in the marketplace. Even some leaders of major retail banks are acknowledging that because the fintechs are building services from scratch and designing them to work in a very personal way for each individual customer, a large chunk of traditional business will soon be lost forever.
Atom Bank is demonstrating an interesting approach. They do offer a full banking service, but with no branch network to support – because the bank is an app on your phone – they can offer better prices than the traditional banks. They are also trying to build systems that learn and understand the needs of individual customers.
A great example is their customer service system. However a customer contacts the bank, the interaction is recorded and fed into their artificial intelligence (AI) system. The AI system learns from every individual customer question and matches the queries to human responses, so it learns about how to resolve problems for customers in general, but also how individual customers prefer service to be delivered.
This level of personalisation would be impossible with any traditional approach to a banking customer service centre, but Atom Bank is showing that innovative new technologies can be used in a way that transforms the banking customer experience. (On a slightly different note, Atom took home the Gold award for Innovation in Digital Transformation at 2016 European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards (ECCCSA), while the Webhelp team were delighted to win the Silver! Well done to everyone involved.)
The McKinsey research suggested that the bank of the future would be winning customers because of innovation and personalisation, but I beg to differ. One look at what app-based banks and fintechs are doing today shows that the bank of the future has already arrived.
Do you think that personalisation will change banking? Leave a comment with your thoughts, or get in touch with me on LinkedIn.