Rise of AI: Why human customer support remains vital in treasury management
AI is taking the digitalisation of financial services to the next level, but some functions require a personalised approach. Laurent Descout, Founder and CEO of Neo looks at why the human touch is essential when it comes to customer support.
The artificial intelligence (AI) boom has caught the attention of businesses across the globe seeking innovative ways to streamline operations and cut costs.
Many treasurers believe that AI could be the next step in the digital transformation of treasury management, with many already reaping the benefits.
Scores of corporates and financial institutions have already implemented AI to improve a range of processes from predicting future liquidity and decision-making to chatbots and enhancing transactions.
AI can analyse vast amounts of data in real-time to detect patterns and anomalies that might be missed by human analysts. This can be particularly valuable in areas like fraud detection and risk management, where speed and accuracy are critical.
While the technology is seen as key for automating and digitising processes, it also has the potential to cause headaches for treasurers. Nowhere is this pain felt more than when dealing with AI-based customer support.
How AI has been implemented in chatbots
In recent years, banks have had to increasingly move operations online to adapt to new hybrid ways of working.
Both traditional banks and fintech providers now have digital channels supporting customers to help them manage timely queries including budget re-forecasting and government loan applications.
Since these digital channels have been introduced, we have seen a boom in generative AI applications such as ChatGPT and Bard. These new applications have illustrated how powerful large language models (LLM) are allowing the user to have human-like conversations and assisting with tasks like composing emails or writing essays.
Many banks have introduced LLM technology to improve their chatbots so they can streamline customer support and reduce costs.
While chatbots are nothing new, interacting with them has traditionally been a struggle. They were simply a way of answering routine questions and then directing customers to the appropriate resources.
Through these new large language models, chatbot support is closer to one-on-one human interaction and customers can expect a more sophisticated and quicker response to queries.
However, implementing this technology hasn’t been plain sailing for banks. In June this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the United States stressed the frustration that customers are having when trying to get straightforward answers from their financial institutions or raise a concern or dispute through AI chatbots. The CFPB received numerous complaints from the 37% of US citizens who had dealt with a bank chatbot in 2022.
Although LLM technology has advanced, not everything can be straightforward when using a bot. Efficiency gains from chatbots largely come at the expense of customer experience.
Banks need human experts
Despite the AI hype and ubiquitous chatbot adoption, people still like doing business with people. A recent survey emphasized that customers still desire human interaction in their banking experiences.
But having humans in customer support isn’t a panacea either. We’ve all been in situations where you’re passed from person to person within a bank, repeatedly being put on hold and hoping to get an answer from someone. It needs to be expert support.
New research has found that a lack of support from experts at banks has been an issue faced by 25% of CFOs and treasurers at SMEs. This percentage increases to 30% when dealing with foreign exchange (FX), which is a vital part of a treasurer’s role.
For specialised queries, it is fundamental that banks still employ people who are experts and well-trained to manage these queries.
Why treasurers need expert human support
Treasurers have complex and rapidly evolving needs and personalised relationships with providers remain essential. When they do have a problem, they want it solved quickly and having an expert human support team available is the way forward.
As their needs evolve, they will increasingly look for those providers that value delivering exceptional service and expertly resolving issues and queries above cost-cutting.
Global Banking & Finance Review
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