There have been a few significant trends in the financial industry over the past several years. One such trend is consolidation among Credit Unions and Community Banks. For instance, there were nearly 24k Credit Unions in the United States at the peak of the Credit Union movement; this has since dropped to just over 5100 Credit Unions today, and a similar pattern is observed among community banks. The pandemic & the resulting financial environment are expected to increase the instances of consolidation. Larger financial institutions are looking to build scale, and smaller financial institutions with less than $100M in assets are expected to be forced into an acquisition due to their poor financial conditions.

Another prominent trend is the focus on digital, where financial institutions are investing heavily to make their digital channels robust and modern. The pandemic’s onset has accelerated the shift of customers towards digital platforms and has made these platforms the ‘go-to’ place for customers to interact with their financial institution. This shift in customer behavior has led to a large-scale digital transformation effort from financial institutions. To be more digitally savvy, financial institutions are migrating to a more open core banking system, a more modern online banking platform, and cloud-based contact center systems.

Such transformations mean a lot of change for both the customers and the staff of these financial institutions.

For instance, when two entities combine during a merger, the resulting entity will need to be on a single online banking platform. There is a need for new IDs to be created for customers to transition to the new platform. In the case of core migration or migration to any new tool, the same process follows, with there being a need to create a new identity for customers who are new to this platform or tool.

Any change described above or a combination of these changes will trigger a significant spike in call volumes as customers seek information and clarifications. This issue is exacerbated with access to branches restricted today due to the pandemic.

Financial institutions experience anywhere between a 5-fold to a 25-fold increase in inquiries & call volumes during such transitions. This leads to severe operational strain on the support function because of the increased call volumes, and the support staff are not equipped and trained with the new knowledge necessary to respond to these inquiries. This leads to increased call wait times, increased call abandonment rates, increased average handling times(AHT), low first-time resolutions, and overall a poor customer experience.

Creating seamless access to on-demand knowledge for both employees and customers about the changes is necessary while navigating a change.

How are financial institutions trying to accomplish this?

Today, financial institutions have attempted to create self-serve content through videos, blogs, or FAQs that help customers and employees acquire the necessary knowledge on the changes. However, customers seek instant gratification and do not have the patience to go through such content, remember it and apply it at the time of need. Even employees will not have sufficient time to imbibe this knowledge leading to errors and fewer resolution instances.

What is necessary is providing instant access to knowledge for customers and employees, and the best way to achieve this is through Artificial Intelligence.

With interface.ai’s Artificial Intelligence-powered Call Center(AI Call Center), Financial institutions can -

  • Automate high-frequency calls & instantly respond to customer inquiries
  • Increase the automation scope as the AI Call Center will continue to learn every week on questions it could not answer.
  • Instantly scale to handle any volume of calls.

As the AI Call Center acts as the first line of defense and handles most of the customers’ calls, the volume of calls arriving at the financial institution’s call center drastically reduces, thus reducing the stress on the call center.

Suppose the AI Call Center is unable to respond to any questions from the customer. In that case, the Artificial Intelligence-powered frontline assistant equips the staff with the apt policy and procedure to respond to the question swiftly.

With such a setup, financial institutions can dramatically reduce the stress on financial institutions’ support function.

The AI Call Center ensures there are no call wait times for customers, no calls from customers are abandoned, reduced average handling time, and provides an increase in first-time resolution instances.

Responses from interface.ai’s AI Call Center are highly accurate & comparable to the quality of answers from the high-performing staff in any financial institution. With the AI Call Center being equipped with neural voice, customers are also guaranteed a human-like support experience on the call center.

interface.ai’s AI Call Center that can answer all questions related to a merger or a migration could be set up in less than 2 weeks, and a front-line assistant can be set up in about 4 to 6 weeks. With interface.ai’s managed services, 95% of the work on this implementation will be handled by interface.ai. In many cases, it is an out-of-the-box installation as interface.ai already has workflows for all the popular systems in the industry.

Within a few weeks after the launch, the AI Call Center will handle over 90% of customers’ questions on mergers & migrations.

The AI Call Center is an omnichannel solution that can be set up in the form of a chat or voice-based solution.

Case Study

Let us look at how a financial institution leveraged interface.ai’s AI solution to manage the stress on its support operations during a merger.  

Gesa Credit Union, one of the largest Credit Unions in Washington, was amid a merger with Inspirus Credit Union during October & November 2020.

During the merger with Inspirus Credit Union, the support inquiries received by Gesa Credit Union increased by 17-fold, leading to extreme stress on support operations. Even though Gesa had predicted an increase in inquiries and had staffed their support teams accordingly, they were overwhelmed with the tremendous rise in volumes. To manage the increased inquiries, Gesa went as far as having employees volunteer for support roles.

At this time of need, their AI Assistant, Uni, powered by interface.ai, helped them handle the increased volumes of inquiries seamlessly. The teams at Gesa and interface.ai collaborated to update the knowledge base of Uni, enabling it to respond to all the questions about the merger. Equipped with this knowledge, Uni being a cloud-based system, had no trouble scaling to accommodate the increased requests and supported the members of Gesa and Inspirus instantly.

One of the significant behavioral changes observed post-merger is that once members got an opportunity to try Uni and got responses to their questions, they continue to interact with Uni to get their questions answered. This behavioral change has led to a sustained increase in traffic from the members of the combined entity.

The adoption of the AI Call Center among financial institutions is on the rise. However, financial institutions put off implementing an AI Call Center until after a planned merger or migration. However, implementing the AI Call Center first would make any planned transition seamless with no negative impact on customer experience and no operational stress for the financial institutions.

In conclusion, mergers & migrations must be planned well ahead with systems such as the AI Call Center in place to avoid unnecessary stress to customers and internal operations.

Even though the banking industry’s stickiness is among the best, today’s customers have many choices. Poor customer service is one of the significant reasons customers shift from one financial institution to another. Moving from one financial institution to another is relatively simple & is not viewed as challenging.

With the AI Call Center, financial institutions can continue to operate with high efficiency and not compromise customer support quality.

Today, many financial institutions are already benefiting immensely from interface.ai’s IVA. You can learn more about how interface.ai’s IVA is helping financial institutions across the nation here.