Best Chatbots for the Financial Services Industry
As consumer expectations grow, Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly important role in financial services. Banks, investment funds or fintechs are testing Chatbots and other AI-powered applications and implementing innovative solutions to improve overall customer service. The use of Chatbots is also reinforced by the customers themselves, who are apt to send messages on their mobile phones instead of waiting on hold at a helpline.
Chatbots, or Virtual Assistants, simulate the activities of agents in the Call Center. They are able to emulate the human way of learning questions and specific language, and then they run a virtual dialog, operate on the known data functioning on all kinds of chat apps (on websites, applications or social media). They analyze huge amounts of data in order to be able to generate the most probable answer to the question asked by the user. For these reasons, this new technology has become known as “conversational”.
The financial sector is changing, companies all over the world see it and feel the enormous pressure on innovation. Chatbots are nowadays the most popular technology for customer service automation, quickly replacing traditional channels such as toll-free lines or application forms. Customers appreciate Virtual Assistants because they solve their problems instantly. Companies providing financial services are focused on supporting clients’ active money management through applications based on communication technologies.
Benefits of the new “Conversational AI”
According to Juniper Research forecasts, Chatbots will allow banks to save billions of dollars in the next decade. According to the company’s report, by 2022 Chatbots’ use will be responsible for 8 billion dollars annual cost savings.
There are many advantages of using Chatbots in the financial sector – both for the institutions and the users themselves, the most important of them are:
- Cost savings & higher margins
Chatbots solve at least 20% of customer problems in 100% automated way. Less Call Center agents are needed, allowing consultants to focus on after-sales, increasing margins on banking products. What’s more, Chatbots are less expensive than stand-alone mobile applications, and their cost is often spread across multiple platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels).
- Increase in sales of services/ conversion
Chatbots are fully programmable, and easy for personalization which allows them to offer precise recommendations of services. Users assisted by Chatbot quickly find the information they are looking for. A Virtual Agent can automatically present a new offer, e.g. for an additional card. Moving between transactions is seamless. Such actions increase the involvement of visitors to the website and may, for example, contribute to an increase in the number of bank accounts opened.
- Ease of use and personalization
The global trend of changing the way of using the Internet, in favour of mobile devices and messaging apps such as Facebook, Snapchat or WhatsApp, causes that the majority of customers will text instead of call. There is no more intuitive interface for these channels than Chatbot’s “conversation” text interface. Virtual Assistant allows you to personalize your content and instantly respond to your customers’ inquiries, which is what users expect from financial institutions.
- Being Proactive (not only assistance, but also financial advice)
Advanced Chatbots provide customers with access to vast amounts of data, enabling expense tracking and budget setting for better financial management.
- Scalability (digital support 24/7)
A well-designed Chatbot works in the same, consistent way on multiple platforms, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and simultaneous conversations means virtually any scalability can be achieved. The emergence of new Facebook-like applications does not require significant reprogramming of Chatbot, just integration with the API. This is a tangible benefit for the marketing teams of banks and fintechs, allowing to improve consumer experience.
Chatbots in Financial Institutions
Bank of America
Erica, the Virtual Assistant of the Bank of America, one of the most talked about applications, is available inside a mobile app and tasked with providing day-to-day service to the bank’s customers, assist in concluding transactions and paying bills. Erica will check and plan payments, order transfers between accounts, block a credit card if necessary or send money to a friend in need. Erica, in the future, can also work through a Home Assistant (e.g. Google Home or Amazon Echo).
- efficient conversations in the form of a chat
- the use of the latest AI technologies, including voice recognition, to check balances and perform operations
What is missing?
- no intuitive redirection to Live Chat to the operator
- relatively limited base of so-called “small talk” with Erica
Bank of Montreal
The Bank of Montreal provides its customers with Chatbot BMO Bolt™ via Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Virtual BOM Assistants keep clients up to date with topics such as daily banking, credit cards, mortgages and online banking.
- integration with the most popular instant messengers
- the use of “carousels” with choices of the most common questions (a solution appreciated by customers)
What is missing?
- no Chatbot on a desktop website (and not all customers use instant messengers)
- no customer identification
HSBC Hong Kong
Amy is a customer service platform for corporate banking in HSBC Hong Kong. The Virtual Assistant is available via the website. It can help customers open an account, present them with services or help with any concerns clients may have with mobile banking. Amy uses English as well as Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese).
- multilinguage (works in English and Chinese)
- efficient identification of paraphrases, intentions and customer problems through NLP (Natural Language Processing)
What is missing?
- Virtual Assistant poorly follows the context of the conversation
In Europe, Nordea Bank has also invested in NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology. Chatbot NOVA works for Nordea Life & Pensions in Norway and is available via the website. NOVA is trained to answer basic questions about pensions and insurance. For now, she only speaks Norwegian.
- assisting in filling out applications for banking products
What is missing?
- incomplete ability to start a conversation when the user is not active
Polish financial institutions are also beginning to experiment with solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI). An example is Aviva Investors’ Chatbot. Virtual Assistant Aviva24 is available through the website and acts as an investment advisor. Chatbot is a part of the help center, responsible for the chat channel, which supports the voice helpline and application forms. It has a built-in database of ready-made answers, which it constantly is using to resolve 30-60% of the most common customer inquiries. Chatbot also performs marketing functions. It can guide the client through possible fund choices, educate about necessary documents or talk about transaction security. Chatbot Aviva24 speaks Polish.
Chatbot operates on the basis of the latest AI technologies, cooperating with the knowledge base of questions, answers, investment language & synonyms. Therefore, regardless of the form of the question, the system should understand the question and, in the form of a chat, conduct a conversation.
- a combination of service, marketing and sales functions, Chatbot redirects to the appropriate consultant (Live Chat or helpline) when unsure of the answer
What is missing?
- Chatbot does not have access to data in the client’s investment register (no access to operations)
Fintechs force changes
Until recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a synonym for risk and unpredictability for the financial sector for many years. There are two sources for this shift in attitude. The relative maturity of AI-based technologies and their broad application by the fintechs – bold, new companies that explicitly declare that they will radically change the financial industry. The potential of AI, including Chatbots, is therefore enormous and noticed by the clients themselves, who eagerly use new communication channels.