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Conversational Banking:
A Guide for 2023

1. Introduction

Conversational banking

The banking sector has become highly commoditized. Most banks use the same software and offer similar services accessible on their website and banking apps.

Unsurprisingly, challenger banks have taken market share and mindshare away from legacy banks. Their ability to differentiate through disruptive innovation and an obsession with customer experience has become a magnet to digitally-minded customers.

Traditional touchpoints like high street branch locations and contact centers have been replaced by thoughtfully designed, intuitive apps that deliver seamless customer experiences at a fraction of the cost-to-serve. 

Customer service is now one of the only ways a bank can differentiate itself from its competitors. 

Offering instant, helpful service instead of long queues in-branch, complicated phone trees,  and key-word driven conversations helps customers reach an accurate resolution faster, drastically improving customer experience and increasing brand loyalty. 

Banks are moving towards conversational banking to anticipate their customers’ needs, meet customers on their preferred digital channels and deliver a more personalized experience 24/7.

2. Overview

What is conversational banking?

Conversational banking enables customers to interact with banks using various conversational technologies, including chatbots, voice assistants, or messaging platforms. 

Conversational banking aims to provide customers with a more convenient and personalized experience where they can ask questions, make requests and engage with their bank more naturally on the channel of their choice.

Using conversational AI reduces the need for manual assistance from a bank’s contact center agents by handling requests such as transferring funds, checking balances, and making payments, allowing agents to focus on more complex customer interactions.

3. Customer Enablement

A step forward from online banking

Online banking and banking apps have been available to customers for several years. Customers expect to be able to carry out basic banking tasks and access account information with ease. 

Where online banking requires website navigation, account logins and app interfaces, conversational banking enables customers to self-serve more intuitively. Customers can ask questions, make transactions and get real-time support across various channels. 

Whether a customer is updating account information or applying for a mortgage, conversational AI technologies enable banks to provide unparalleled access and shorter wait times to move customers towards a resolution faster and more naturally than ever before.

4. Technologies

Conversational banking channels

Conversational banking can be offered via both text and voice conversations.

Conversational banking chatbots

Many banks begin their conversational AI journey with a chatbot to supplement their existing digital self-service channels. 

It’s a reasonable place to start; chatbots can be deployed on established channels, and they can help to deflect call volume by handling a range of basic banking activities such as account inquiries, balance updates, and reporting a lost card. 

Example of a chatbot starting a conversation with a customer

Example of a chatbot starting a conversation with a customer

Conversational banking over the phone

Legacy voice technologies have only been capable of limited automation over the phone, meaning banks have only had access to conversational IVRs that ask, “Please tell me why you’re calling in a few words”. These conversational IVRs may be able to answer a small set of general FAQs, but have little other functionality. 

Now it is possible to offer conversational banking over the phone using AI-powered voice assistants. These assistants can communicate with customers in the same way agents would. They can understand customers however they speak and give appropriate responses that help solve customer queries, 24/7, 365 days a year. 

PolyAI Phone Call

5. Capabilities

Conversational banking use cases

Many banks are yet to fully realize the potential of conversational banking. Here are a variety of use cases where conversational banking can create value.

1. Account management

Customers don’t need to endure hold music and long wait times to carry out routine tasks such as changing address or managing account rewards. By using conversational banking, customers can quickly and easily access the information they need and manage their accounts on their terms without waiting for a customer service representative or visiting a branch.

Examples of credit card inquiries

2. Answering FAQs

Queries such as ‘how do I access my account’ and ‘where can I find my nearest branch’ form part of an exhaustive list of FAQs that customers can usually find online. However, customers prefer to ask questions in their own words and often choose to speak to an agent over the phone.

Using technologies like chatbots and voice assistants, banks can be available 24/7 to manage routine queries on the customer’s preferred channel.

Banks can use voice assistants to give immediate answers or send SMS or push notifications containing a direct link to relevant web pages or resources that specifically answer customers’ questions.

3. Personalized customer service

Conversational AI technologies can integrate with back-end systems to gather customer information throughout the user journey.

With access to accurate, up-to-date customer data, banks can deliver more personalized experiences by offering personalized greetings, remembering the details of past callers to help with an ongoing query, or identifying opportunities to use other services such as insurance.

Banking personalized loan conversation

4. Conversational authentication

Banking customers want seamless experiences, but above all else, they want to know their accounts and finances are secure.

Using conversational AI technologies, banks can provide a secure and reliable identification and verification process without sacrificing the customer experience. Conversational banking technologies can confirm essential security information such as a customer’s name, address and date of birth and authenticate it all in a natural conversation, just like a customer service representative would.

PolyAI able to confirm essential security information

5. Customer onboarding

Disruptor banks have proved you don’t need physical locations or lengthy processes to onboard new customers. Banks like Monzo can onboard new customers in as little as 15 minutes with nothing more than access to a smartphone.

Conversational banking uses a variety of channels, including mobile apps, video, and chat, to quickly verify the identity of new customers and onboard them. Not only is this process more accessible than ever before, but conversational banking technologies remove the need for manual intervention from a bank’s customer service representatives, giving them time to focus on more complex customer engagements.

6. Benefits

Benefits of conversational banking

Investment in conversational banking can provide mutual benefits to both customers and banks. Below, we will explore various benefits, from improved agent retention to Zero Touch Resolution.

Reduce call volume to the contact center

Banks can reduce the volume of calls to the contact center by automating many interactions usually handled by a customer service representative.

Voice assistants can reduce customer wait times by automating as many as 50% of calls. This includes repetitive call types such as FAQs, payments and account management.

Automating these calls gives time and resources back to a bank’s contact center. Customer service representatives can focus on more complex customer inquiries without creating a long queue of customers waiting on hold.

Bridge the gap between digital and the phone

Conversational banking can be used to encourage uptake of a bank’s digital self-service offerings. Customers who call in, or use a chatbot, can be sent a direct link via SMS or push notification to a relevant digital resource, instead of having an agent walk them through a lengthy form-filling process.

Improve the banking customer experience

Conversational banking is about fitting into the customer’s world by being available on the channels that customers use the most. That way, their experience is efficient and seamless when they engage with a bank.

By deploying conversational technologies, banks can offer support 24/7, 365 days a year. When voice assistants supplement the contact center, customers no longer have to wait on hold, and the bank answers their call immediately.

Improved agent retention

Contact centers are facing an ongoing labor shortage. A scarcity of staff combined with increasing call volume has resulted in poor customer experiences and significant pressure on contact center agents.

Conversational banking seeks to minimize this pressure by containing repetitive queries. By automating routine customer calls, agents have more time to focus on complex and rewarding customer queries while also having time to take all-important comfort breaks between calls.

By cutting wait times, customers are less likely to be frustrated before they even reach the agent, making calls more pleasant for both parties.

Handle peak call volumes

Peaks in call volume can usually be planned for. However, incidents like an error on a bank’s website or technical issues on a banking app that stops customers from accessing their accounts can result in a steep rise in call volume. These unforeseen events leave contact center staff on the back foot, often resulting in banks scrambling to write apology statements and angry customers venting on social media.

A voice assistant mitigates the risk of unhappy customers and limits brand damage by allowing banks to serve more customers quickly in crises.

7. Call examples

Real examples of conversational banking

8. Conclusion

PolyAI and conversational banking

Banks that invest in conversational banking technology are in a significantly better position to compete in a rapidly evolving digital landscape and meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.

By leveraging conversational AI technologies like voice assistants and chatbots, banks can provide convenient, personalized, and efficient ways for customers to manage their finances in more accessible ways than ever before.

Access to structured data and customer insights enables banks to anticipate customer needs and deliver guidance specific to each customer based on real-time information.

Don’t wait to implement conversational banking with an AI voice assistant. Talk to us about how PolyAI can help your company launch new customer experiences at scale, improve loyalty and retention, reduce contact center costs, and prove ROI in months.

Speak to the team today where we can cover the following:

  1. How voice automation fits into your customer service program
  2. How to build a successful voice bot with minimal training data
  3. How to capture your brand’s identity in the voice channel
  4. How to build a voice bot that understands a variety of accents
  5. How to port your voice bot into all the languages spoken by your customers

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