At the helm of artificial intelligence, every bank is racing to not just automate their customer service, but improve it. Nobody likes calling customer service, and no bank likes acknowledging that their website or services are insufficient and necessitate call centers. Increasingly, chatbots are filling the void.
Just a few examples:
- Bank of America uses ERICA to give customers key and real-time updates on their finances using a channel of their preference. Her predictive analytics and cognitive messaging help customers make payments, pay down debts, and check their balances.
- Fintech companies such as Plum, Digit, and Cleo use chatbots that drive microsaving by putting small amounts into savings each day for their users. These companies’ chatbot is their core product, unlike legacy banks that use it to supplement a core product.
- In 2016, Swedbank launched on its website and mobile application Nuance’s NINA, which helps answer customer inquiries more quickly by sourcing information relevant to their query using intuitive analysis.
It may be true that the homebuying process still requires a mix of digital and human interaction, but every market segment increasingly expects most or all of the lending experience to be online – and chatbots give banks the opportunity to provide a personalized digital experience at scale.
1. Chatbots are faster
Other than economic factors like interest rates and closing costs or having an existing relationship, the most important factors to borrowers in choosing a lender is speed – and chatbots happen to be instantaneous. Meanwhile, any customer service representative knows that most customers have the same issues but are unlikely to seek out website FAQs that are probably outdated; and every banker knows that call centers mean huge overhead. Chatbots can give customers the information they need right away, whether it is answers to your most asked questions or help navigating to the right place – and it saves customers the hassle of calling a bank and waiting on a customer service representative.
2. Chatbots are a treasure trove of information
How are your websites and other digital properties doing and what should you focus on improving in 2018? For too long, digital analytics and customer service have been separate and static exercises. With chatbots, lenders can merge the two, gaining valuable information on why potential customers are visiting and how digital properties can be improved to suit their needs better. User experience no longer has to be about bounce rates and heat maps, lenders can understand directly from the source what potential customers came for and why they left, ultimately improving your online presence and customer satisfaction.
3. Chatbots reach the customers with the most promise
In addition to a stronger preference for a digital application process, millennials are less satisfied with their current application experience than any other consumer segment surveyed. With other industries now typically providing a fast, intuitive, and seamless experience, lenders need to adapt quickly or be prepared to lose share as this segment grows to become the largest in the market. In short, chatbots are where your current – and future customers – are. With Facebook Messenger boasting over 1.2B users, lenders will do themselves an enormous favor if they are available where their customers are.
4. Compete on service, not rate
Not surprisingly, interest rates are consistently the no. 1 consideration consumers look at when choosing a lender. However, there are still opportunities to win customers with compelling experience features—speed, transparency, channels, and customer service—even where you are not offering the lowest rate. Ultimately, this means banks will be able to differentiate themselves on something that isn’t just price and builds up their brand equity in the meantime.