Being perceived as highly mobile and technically receptive, millennials’ communicational behaviors and preferences in both tone, frequency, and media differ significantly from previous generations. As millennials are increasingly entering the labour market and building up wealth, they are expected to significantly affect the banking industry.
Successfully serving changing client expectations requires banks to rethink their client engagement strategies and increasingly interact online and mobile, while transferring information quickly and seamlessly across the various channels. Chatbots, a new technological phenomenon that leverages artificial intelligence to simulate human, natural language conversations could be an interesting tool to better serve clients’ needs.
As millennials are increasingly entering the labour market and building up wealth, they are expected to significantly impact the banking industry
The population of millennials are predicted to form 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and are therefore expected to grow their wealth significantly in the years to come. Estimates of millennials’ net worth range from $19-24 trillion by 2020, proving the importance of this client segment for banks in the near future.
Being perceived as highly mobile and technically receptive, millennials’ communicational behaviors and preferences in both tone, frequency, and media differ significantly from previous generations. Which is why, banks will have to significantly alter the way they engage with clients to sustain loyalty and trust. In a first response, Universal-, Regional- and large Private-banks have already released mobile banking apps to let self-empowered clients manage their accounts and wealth from their smartphones on the go.
However, as clients tend to walk less into their banks’ traditional brick and mortar branches, banks need to find new ways to foster engagement on a personal note. With clients’ increasing expectations for real-time responses around the clock, social networks and messaging platforms have become a popular engagement channel. Similarly, they have been quickly adopted by the industry in the hope of getting competitive advantage over other institutions, while also mitigating potential reputation or privacy risks.
Hence, best-positioned channels to serve clients in the near future are online, mobile and able to transfer information quickly also across various channels at any point in time.
Chatbots are a passport to play in the digitally transforming financial services industry
Chatbots are computer programs that leverage artificial intelligence to simulate human, natural language conversations with users via auditory or textual channels. They act upon queries from clients 24/7 and can be developed for almost any front-end channel, including corporate websites, social media or messaging applications. In the back-end, they can be connected via APIs to an enterprise or core banking system.
The advantages of Chatbots are eminent in enhancing client engagement, and provide fantastic value to the Chatbot-employing financial services company. They offer considerable opportunities for operating cost savings through digitalization of (but not only) the client service workforce. Moreover, Chatbots may not only be suitable for client interactions but could also be applied in HR operations, Recruitment, Knowledge Management, etc. A targeted and coordinated approach to Chatbots as part of an overall digital and client engagement strategy is thus, expected to unlock most value.
Chatbots have received first traction in the financial services industry
The many opportunities that Chatbots offer within financial services have led to an uptake in use cases around the globe. For example, US-based CapitalOne, has recently launched a natural language processing-capable Chatbot named Eno. Eno enables clients to chat with the bank using text-based natural language to pay bills and retrieve account information.
In the UK, the startup Habito built the world’s first AI mortgage advice Chatbot, which queries applicant’s financial status, asking questions covering an applicant’s salary, personal life and employment. And last, in Switzerland, SIX Payment Services, the operator of the country’s cashless payment infrastructure, recently launched a Chatbot to provide clients quick and easy access to products, enabling respective purchases on the spot.
Three challenges are to be mastered on the journey of becoming a Chatbot employing bank
First, the current process landscape across the bank needs to be analysed to identify integrated areas of application that unlock most value (usually high-volume, well-documented processes running on open underlying technology). Second, the solution needs to be conceptualised, bearing in mind the expected user interaction, desired features & capabilities and the underlying bot development framework. Third, vendors are to be partnered with that can deliver the required components and meet the use case needs (i.e. IPSoft, IBM Watson, etc.)
Monday morning 08:00 AM agenda
Online communication channels and Chatbots will become an essential client engagement tool for banks. Leadership teams eager to rethink how their bank needs to engage with their clients in the near future can begin by adding the following key questions to their next strategy meeting agenda.
- How well are we positioned to serve expected changes in client demographics?
- How are we currently interacting with our clients?
- Does our current channel offering serve the needs of our client segments?
As digital technologies transform the banks’ client engagement model, financial institutions that can make an integrated use of Chatbots, build competitive advantage in a rapidly changing banking landscape.