Enhancing customer engagement in financial services with AI
Customer experience is one of the pillars upon which business success is founded.
The quality of the journey a customer makes when engaging with a company determines their ongoing loyalty. For financial organisations, which handle people’s income and monetary assets, the entire customer engagement process must be as stress-free as possible.
The two main priorities for financial services contact centres is first-contact resolution and ensuring quick response times. Put it this way, if you call your bank and are passed off onto multiple agents – each one knowing as little as the last – before you get your response, how confident would you feel in the company’s customer service? You would rightly feel as though responsibility was being shifted onto the next agent, with no one demonstrating any decent level of understanding.
In recent years, technology has helped improve and streamline these engagements between banks or insurance providers and their customers. Artificial intelligence, or AI, has had an immediate impact on how customers engage with financial organisations. What this has enabled agents to do is spend more time on more qualitative tasks while an AI algorithm helps customers with their issues, engaging the agents only when more complex queries arise.
The industry was initially wary about AI entering the contact centre space. Many even feared that AI would be a job killer – this has obviously not been the case. AI works in tandem with agents to streamline clunky processes that waste time for both agent and customer. If anything, the use of technology and AI has been a job enabler in financial services.
The changing contact centre space
The pandemic and its fallout triggered major changes across the business and consumer landscapes. Financial services, along with countless other industries, have had to pivot their focus to match changing consumer habits and expectations.
At the top of the list is the greater use of cross-channel communications. Gone are the days when the phone was the primary method of contact. Now, various forms of messaging have taken hold and financial service providers need to be able to seamlessly interchange between them as required. Coupled with having to deliver unfaltering customer experience to every caller, these new logistical challenges make it considerably harder for agents to do their jobs.
The ability of AI to seamlessly give customers the right information they need in real time with self-service options means eliminating the need for a call to other departments and instead making the role of your customer experience team far less time-consuming and stressful. It offers agents more information to handle complex issues that self-service can’t resolve.
What AI can do for financial services
What we considered to be AI a decade ago is now ancient history compared to its capabilities today. This evolution means that AI technology is now able to analyse calls and decipher the impact on the customer, including issue resolution, long-term loyalty and ways to improve. The predictive elements of AI also allow agents to gauge customer behaviour on the phone and provide recommendations to agents on how best to deal with the issue.
One of the biggest challenges for workers in the financial services industry is the sheer amount of data involved in day-to-day operations, the majority of which is highly sensitive. All this data must be stored somewhere and accessed as and when needed. Whenever data is handled manually by workers, there is a natural risk of human error – which can cause complete chaos further down the line. Not to mention the need for agents to access this data in real time to help deal with customer queries as quickly and efficiently as possible.
AI works like a human brain, automatically organising, categorising and storing data in huge quantities. Giving agents the tools to manage and access data, all while freeing them up to better focus on delivering top quality customer service, means stronger relationships are established with customers and the entire business benefits from a more efficient process.
When given the chance, agents and AI can work symbiotically – and everyone involved stands to benefit.
The future of AI in contact centres
The financial services industry has and will always have a significant amount customer engagement. As the industry evolves throughout the 21st century, AI will take on a more significant role in business operations. Not only does it allow agents to focus on more intricate issues while the algorithms deal with more surface-level queries, but AI can also help deliver a better service to customers by eliminating wait times – which can often feel like a lifetime.
The evolution of AI in financial services must not be seen as a threat to contact centre agent jobs. The use of technology such as this will set better practices for agents as well as make sure that customers aren’t left waiting to speak to agents if their issue can be solved earlier.
The industry should view AI as a tool to enhance performance and allow for greater focus on customer service, rather than leaving agents to rattle through customers waiting on hold. For complex issues though, agents can deliver invaluable human engagement. Using AI will not rival workers, but rather play a role in addressing straightforward problems that customers raise.
When used effectively, supplying agents with AI will help improve the customer experience process. Organisations with customer retention at the top of their lists are set to get a slice of this innovation sooner rather than later.