More branch closures will require UK banks to embrace new technology

Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 259 branches – one in four of its outlets – with an increasing amount of customers choosing to bank online or via mobile.[1]

The UK banking sector is unprepared to handle the potential disruption of AI that will ensue, compared to its neighbours in established markets, according to research by UBS. It is ranked seventh out of the top nine countries, behind the US, Spain, Japan and Hong Kong.

The result points to a resistance to automated banking services and AI-assisted processes such as chatbots in the country.

But banks can realise the benefits of AI and automation to improve interactions between staff and customers, says Intelenet® Global Services, whose tech innovations for banks have seen them recognised by the 2017 IDC Fintech Rankings.

Steve Morgan, MD of UK/Europe at Intelenet® Global Services, comments: “The way customers interact with their bank is changing, as branches close down or remodel to be more digitally focused. Increasingly, in branch you are encouraged to use the phone or online channels for certain services. All of this is driving an increase in online help requests.

“Keeping up with new technology is vital to keep the processes behind these operations running smoothly, and maintaining a sense of relationship between banks and their customers.

“Customer resistance to AI-powered chatbots in the UK doesn’t mean banks should hold back on technology, but rather use it to improve personalisation and in-person services. AI tools can help personalise banking for the customer, and automating processes frees up staff to focus on more complex customer service needs.

“For example, voice-recognition programmes can automatically recognise an individual by their voice, predicting the subject of a call linked to their products and recent contacts history. The customer can then be automatically sent to the right department, or the person they spoke to before, without having to be passed between teams.

“This dramatically improves the experience for the consumer. One leading bank was able to reduce the average handling time for customer calls by 40 percent through this approach.

“As competition for customers heats up in an increasingly tech-led world, UK banks will need to make the most of the latest innovations in AI and automation in a way which enables them to give customers the service they want.”

Related Articles