Finance sector is turning to conversational AI to improve customer experience and business function

By Rajasekar Sukumar, Senior Vice President & Head of Europe, Persistent Systems

When it comes to the finance industry, money talks. But so does an exceptional customer experience. After all, banks and other financial businesses are built on trust and reputation. And the way that level of excellence is experienced by customers can make the difference between someone staying loyal and those who would sooner cash out and go elsewhere.

Today, more and more businesses in the finance sector are turning to sophisticated technology to provide the level of service that customers are demanding. Propelled by the emergence of conversational AI (CAI) and virtual assistants, these life-like computer programs are not only shouldering the workload for customer service teams but also elevating customer experiences (CX) to a whole new level.

For example, back in 2017, NatWest created the UK’s first banking ‘chatbot’. Called Cora, this digital assistant initially handled around 1,000 chats a month and was able to answer questions on 25 topics. Fast-forward a few years and today Cora’s intelligence has expanded to answering over 10.5 million customer queries covering over 150 different topics.

NatWest is not alone when it comes to developing AI functions. JPMorgan’s Chase is reportedly developing plans to use ChatGPT and AI to help customers pick appropriate investments. They have also launched an AI Research programme to explore and advance cutting-edge AI and machine learning (ML). This is to develop solutions with aspirations to “infer client goals based on their observed behaviour to drive a superior client experience”.

The common theme here is the focus on CX. When it comes to modern-day financial services, it is increasingly important that banks and other financial businesses are efficient, reliable and accessible. As part of that, the integration of CAI is clearly transforming customer interactions and decision-making processes.

Finance sector banking on CAI

We are a million miles away from traditional CX solutions. Today, technology provides a much different, refined and sophisticated approach to customer relationship management (CRM) as financial institutions recognise the difference CAI can bring to improving the overall experience.

But while there are clear advantages, the introduction of any new technology must focus on core principles such as trust, reliability and security. For those who adopt this new approach, the challenge is to ensure a balance between AI and the familiarity of ordinary human interaction.

And to address the need for ever tighter security, banks and other financial institutions are implementing additional measures for their AI functions — such as multi-factor authentication —  to safeguard sensitive financial information.

The benefits of CAI

Thanks to advances in AI technology, modern CAI systems are programmed to excel in understanding context, providing nuanced responses and simulating human-like conversations. And the benefits soon stack up.

From a customer perspective, the provision of enhanced and personalised services — all with instant access and 24/7 availability — has been a major step forward in CX.

They also ensure continuous and seamless support, giving an unparalleled level of service.

If banks can get it right, they can reap the benefits of cost reduction, effective CRM, risk management, compliance, automation and workflow optimisation. CAI can also record the data and behavioural analysis of their customer base, providing improvement opportunities for the future.

The future of CAI

AI is in a constant state of evolution, unveiling new functions and opportunities. It will transform the finance sector and the way businesses interact with their customers in a revolutionary way.

What’s clear is that the finance sector is already looking at CAI to help improve its CX. And all the signs are that it will continue to innovate through 2024 and beyond.

It is, however, crucial to recognise that the help of actual humans is still needed. While CAI may handle logistics efficiently, they ultimately allow humans to tackle the challenges that demand creativity and critical thinking. Gartner’s latest report predicts that by 2028, the EU will mandate “the right to talk to a human” in customer service.

Just like any advancing technology, balancing it right is crucial, especially in the finance sector, where security and reliability is imperative. Successful implementations rely on a considered approach that takes into account the specific nuances of each business. A rushed implementation of CAI could lead to inadequate systems that are set up for failure or could make potentially dangerous recommendations.

Author bio: Rajasekar Sukumar (Raj) is Senior Vice President & Head, Europe, at Persistent Systems,an industry leader and trusted partner for Digital Engineering and Enterprise Modernisation. Raj has several years of experience as a Consulting Partner and Advisor for businesses spanning the Finance, Banking, Insurance, Travel, Gaming, Healthcare and ISV industries. Raj is trusted by his clients, who include established brands and emerging names, to deliver world-class digital services and help navigate shifts in business technology.


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