Retail Banks Turn to Implementing Chatbots, Robots, and AI to Engage Customers


Retail banking is experiencing a period of rapid growth and transformation. Customers, inspired by many of the conveniences they experience in other industries want to be able to access services 24×7 from their smartphones and tablets. Gone are the days of in-person transactions, picking up the phone to call your branch, and even the days of the ATM seem numbered. To remedy these challenges, the retail banking industry is embracing powerful digital technologies that deliver customers the experience they want. From robots in bank branches to chatbot customer service, retail bankers are working to modernize and stay relevant.

Books, groceries, and now banking? With financial services being such a lucrative sector Amazon is considering entering the retail banking sector to continue to increase their revenues. “Amazon may acquire a small or mid-size bank to test the regulatory waters and gain a footing in the industry. This may either be a tactical move or a broad strategic jump into banking, as Amazon seeks more stickiness with consumers and small businesses in consumer lending such as auto loans, credit cards and home mortgages,” said Ken Leon with CFRA.

According to a recent Cornerstone Advisors study, customers are aren’t so sure about this potential Amazon service. When asked if they would open an account with Amazon, only thirty percent said they would consider opening one. Interestingly, when asked if they would open a free checking account with Amazon, a lower percentage expressed interest.

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If you’ve been to the HSBC branch at 426 Fifth Ave in New York lately, you may have noticed something different – really, you couldn’t miss it. Pepper, a robot created by SoftBank Robotics, debuted at the branch in late June. According to Jeremy Balkin, head of innovation for HSBC United States, automation is a powerful step forward for the banking industry.

“Banks, certainly at physical retail, are going through some of the challenges that all retail is going through,” Balkin said at the recent FUSE Unfiltered conference. “Except banks aren’t really doing anything to make the interactive experience anything that’s even remotely wanted, or exciting, or gamified, or pleasant or, frankly, inviting.”

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Consumers message a lot – with over 2 billion messages exchanged per month on Facebook, and phones seemingly glued to hands – it’s no wonder the banking world is taking notice. Chatbots allow banks to offer 24-7 customer service from any location. Artificial intelligence with keyword matching and predictive behavior, is driving chatbots to be the customer service platform of choice.

Financial institutions that have implemented chatbot technology saw a 4-minute average time savings per chatbot interaction compared to their existing call center. By implementing this technology, financial institutions could save over $8 billion.

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Joe Salesky, CEO of CRMNEXT, envisions the future of banking as “The Bank of Service.” Automation and artificial intelligence will improve bank experience by aiding each front-line employee. “These relationship managers will be the knowledgeable front line that uses science and conversation, much like a doctor, to know the consumer and become their “personal financial assistant,” Salesky explains.

For instance, a general practitioner has an overview of patients’ needs and the ability to provide counsel and services, sometimes seeing over 2,500 patients. Salesky explains that the comparable number for an employee at a credit union or bank would be around 500. But, with AI Salesky believes that number could triple.

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To learn more about the impact of chatbots on retail banking, click here.

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