How conversational AI fits with hyper-personalized banking

As the pandemic has propelled digital banking adoption among consumers, it has also created an openness to new types of digital interactions. Banks have taken notice, and as they work to better meet customer needs while operating more efficiently, customer service channels have emerged as an area ripe for automation and enhancement.

In large part, conversational AI technology will drive this by providing a digital-first channel for customer service engagement that offsets more traditional in-branch and call center interactions. Conversational AI holds the potential to unlock the hyper-personalized experiences that consumers crave.

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Here’s more on what we expect to see, and how banks can benefit by weaving conversational AI into their digital strategies.

A shift away from static information: Traditionally, financial information has been presented in a static view, which forces users to interact in a one-dimensional way. This approach has had varying levels of success, depending on the different financial challenges and customer service needs each user may have.

While static presentation remains the norm, expectations are evolving. Users will soon expect to be able to ask any question about their financial health and receive an accurate response. When a user enters a conversational AI-capable space, it’s a blank slate. They can ask whatever they want and have relevant information and support – such as help unlocking a credit card or displaying spending habits – available on demand.

The importance of knowledge bases: A platform supporting conversational AI requires a robust back end with deep data to inform accurate responses to as many user questions as possible. People pose financial questions in different ways, and AI needs to understand those questions whatever the form or context. Then, to respond with the right information, the AI engine needs access to the appropriate underlying data. Finally, the answer must be formatted for the channel in use, including online and mobile.

Next-generation AI actually understands the context of the conversation. This leads to higher engagement with the user, who stays in the conversation longer when they get the answers they seek. This type of engagement also builds trust, which BAI’s December Executive Report notes, is foundational to the financial services industry.

The building blocks of a conversational experience: The first step for banks looking to integrate conversational AI into their digital environment is to leverage best-in-class conversational natural language understanding and natural language processing (NLU/NLP) technology trained in personal finances.

Training humanizes the customer experience, whether through an interaction model that normalizes conversation or a dynamic experience that allows users to ask relevant questions. This is crucial because, when it comes to finances, consumers need hyper-personalized advice that addresses their specific financial health situations.

Deep integration of AI into a bank’s ecosystem allows an AI-powered virtual assistant to provide categorized, aggregated data and help facilitate transactions, including payments and account opening. This same principle applies to services delivered through online and mobile banking channels. An experience that employs visualizations, insights and nudges will likely become a user’s go-to method for interacting with a bank.

A fully integrated virtual assistant can bring together the critical components – underlying AI, enriched data and visual components – as an out of-the-box Software as a Service (SaaS) product. This allows for a dynamic solution that can be leveraged across channels without the heavy logistics required to design a dynamic conversational experience.

As we move into the future, predictive assistants that are deeply integrated into financial services platforms across every digital channel will help solve increasingly complex problems. Predictive technology will know when a consumer makes a payment and how much they typically spend each month. It will provide an alert, if necessary, to slow down spending or perhaps encourage investing extra money. Based on behavioral insights that leverage key data, those types of nudges and alerts will proactively encourage financial health.

To the benefit of banks and consumers alike, conversational AI offers more accurate data, better insights and hyper-personalized interactions. These key benefits will accelerate adoption in 2021 and beyond as banks continue to invest in this next-generation technology and consumers continue to embrace digital experiences.

Vishal Pasari is vice president, digital solutions, at Fiserv.