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By Alex Debecker, co-founder of the AI-driven chatbot building company ubisend

The chatbot trend is hard to miss. Bots are popping up in various areas, from phone helplines to live-chat and just-for-fun brand mascots.

Businesses are starting to show an interest in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and conversational interfaces. Out of all the sectors influenced by this new technology, it seems the financial sector could stand to benefit most.

What’s driving this demand?

Alex Debecker

Alex Debecker

Accustomed to apps and social media, today’s impatient consumers expect instant gratification. That means waiting for answers from our service providers, or being put on hold is seen as entirely unacceptable.

In recent research, ubisend found that 69% of consumers would consider asking questions to a chatbot, before a human because they prefer immediate answers. Consumers’ time is their biggest asset. They do not care whether they are talking to a human or a machine, they want an answer now.

Traditionally, large financial institutions are seen as old, clunky and slow. Finding information on a website, which has a backlog of years of information, is a pain. Reaching the right person over the phone is often a longwinded process. Meanwhile, we see fintech companies offering best-in-class experience, thanks to their advanced technology and streamlines processes.

For this reason, we are seeing many of the old institutions adapt, some already making use of the new chatbot technology.

The financial gain of using chatbot technology

Alongside giving consumers for the instant, seamless experience they expect, chatbots can also save banks a lot of money.

A report by Juniper Research showed chatbots could save banks over four minutes per enquiry. This would equate to saving £0.38 to £0.53 per interaction. A significant amount, leading to over £6bn per year across the banking sector.

Think of the most common enquiries bank customers have. Things like ‘what is my credit card’s interest rate?’ or ‘can I book an appointment with my account manager‘? These questions are easy to answer and do not necessarily require the input of a human.

These simple questions represent the majority of queries a bank receives every day. It is no surprise that automating those would result in such large savings. Offering an answer to these FAQ-style questions via a chatbot will unclog the call times and reduce the number of inbound emails. Meanwhile, as the machines take care of answering the easy, frequent, questions, the human workforce can be used to focus on the more complex, human, tasks.

Capital One has decided to go down this route. The Alexa skill they have created allows customers to ask about their balance and their account via voice.

How can chatbots be of more help?

Beside basic queries, chatbots can also help from an operations point of view, such as:

Bank of America has built something to this effect. Embedded in its app, Erica is a bot that can tell customers more than numbers. Erica offers real-time tips on how to save better.

As customers continue to expect more, in less time, chatbots will become the solution of choice for even more banks. The innovations being put in place today within banks are just the tip of the iceberg, as this space becomes increasingly sophisticated, banks will embrace it as a means to offer future-proof their businesses.

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