By Shashi Nirale Senior Vice President & SBU Head at Servion Global Solutions
With consumers shunning traditional in-branch services for mobile apps and online services, banks have been forced to adapt in order to stay relevant. In fact, research from the British Bankers Association found that digital banking is leading to a ‘consumer-led revolution’ with a drastic increase in the use of mobile banking apps. As a result of this, more and more users are moving to online-only challenger banks such as Atom Bank, which are driving traditional financial organisations to be more innovative to remain competitive.
In today’s marketplace, services and products in all industries are commoditised, with businesses struggling to compete on price – meaning they need to find alternative ways of standing out. One way to do this is delivering a better customer experience – a key differentiator. The battle for customer loyalty will see the use of next-generation technologies become vital for banks to succeed.
AI driven customer experience
Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven automation technology is already in use at a number of banks to help them reduce costs and improve customer experience. This is achieved by automating lengthy manual processes to free up staff so they can spend more time engaging effectively with customers. Further, AI-driven voice activation is taking over a range of customer interactions which previously would have required human interaction. With voice activated services such as Siri and Alexa becoming more popular, customers are increasingly familiar with the use of voice as a means for communicating with machines, and by extension, companies.
The natural evolution of these advances is voice biometrics. Within the banking sector, biometrics are set to become one of the most crucial tools in customer experience; providing customers with a convenient way of interacting without the need for a lengthy and inconvenient login processes, and with no additional customer authentication required. Today, customers become frustrated by having numerous passwords to remember or carrying a dongle around, just to access their accounts – any technology that helps to solve this issue will put banks one step ahead of their competition.
The win-win situation for consumers and banks
One example of this is Barclays, which has put in place a system that uses voice recognition to authenticate identity, meaning there’s no need for security questions or passwords. From the bank’s perspective, the advantage is clear; agents in the customer hub save time as they don’t need to go through lengthy authentication processes, so have more time to handle customer interactions.
But it’s not just voice authentications, new technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce operational costs for banks by automating other services such as bank transfers. Since live customer support agents normally charge by the hour, even a 30-second reduction in call time results in significant cost savings. Completing an entire customer service interaction by virtual means is even more cost effective. For customers, AI will offer highly personalised financial advice without the need for a human agent to be present. For customers, these technologies result in faster issue resolution, lower wait times, reduced customer effort and improved customer satisfaction.
Consumer driven change
Typically, the banking industry has been known as a laggard in terms of technology – however the industry is making great progress as a result of these new opportunities. The banking revolution is ultimately being driven by consumer uptake of new technologies. When it comes to meeting the needs of younger generations and future customers, voice recognition is just the start of a new evolution in banking.
The future will see even more exciting developments in the sector, customers will begin to see, and indeed demand, augmented and virtual reality channels of communication with their banks. In addition, we could even eventually see holograms in use, as companies push the boundaries of innovation to improve the customer experience. With this in mind, banks must ensure they are doing all they can to stay at the forefront of innovation, to avoid falling out of favour with their customers.