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Is AI really transforming the customer experience in banking?

Salesforce has coined the current era as ‘The Age of the Customer’, where everyone and everything is connected. In banking, this transformation means that technology will play an increasingly significant role in, the way customers interact with their bank.

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But will the introduction of the bots, machine learning, and AI mean a better quality of customer service? Or do people still want the human touch?

Among the benefits, machines are more accurate than human beings; they don’t get tired or agitated and can be available 24/7 – an important factor in today’s round-the-clock global market.

But while AI is certain to improve the efficiency and lower costs of the business, will it result in a disconnect with the customer as human contact is removed? There is also a cultural change that comes with embracing virtual agents: although the younger generations of ‘millennials’ will probably be happy to enjoy these digital interactions, it is likely other demographics will need more persuasion.

Retail banking is already introducing AI in the form of chatbots and assistants. Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America and Swedbank are just a few examples of the banks that are incorporating this kind of technology into the day-to-day workings of the business.

Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS launched their AI system 'Luvo' following a pilot of 1,200 staff who manage relationships with small businesses. The system is able to understand questions and filter through huge amounts of information in a split second before responding with the answer. If the AI is unable to find the answer, it passes the query on to a member of staff who can solve more complex problems.

The implementation has already seen inspiring results, allowing staff to spend less time on day-to-day enquiries and put more focus on the customers who need it, giving the customer a fast and effective way to interact with the bank.

Simon McNamara, RBS Chief Administrative Officer said:

“This is a really exciting new technology that brings artificial intelligence to life and will help our staff serve customers better by resolving their questions and problems much more quickly.”

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Bank of America

Announced in April 2016, Bank of America's AI system, 'Erica', is expected to be released to customers later this year. Erica will operate via both audio and text, analyzing customers' personal financial data to generate recommendations for how to best handle their finances.

The chatbot will use predictive analytics to bring up topics proactively, rather than simply responding to questions posed by the customer. Since the original announcement, Bank of America has changed their original plan of having the bot on Facebook Messenger to hosting Erica in their own app, making sure the loyalty of their customers sticks firmly with them.

Swedbank

'Nina', Swedbank's AI assistant, was launched on the website in April 2016 and not only answers questions typed in by customers, but can also source information for staff to pass on whilst on calls.

'Nina' has helped Swedbank improve customer experience, including a 78% first-contact resolution within the first three months as well as a customer adoption of 30,000 conversations per month within the same period, and it is currently answering eight out of every ten customer questions.

Nina uses natural language understanding technology to simulate human conversation in an attempt to bridge the gap between AI and human customer service.

Bots here to stay?

Want to continue learning about the use of AI in finance? Download our free eBook, Virtual Agents in Banking.

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