One thing is certain, offering exceptional customer experience is always the foremost agenda for financial institutions. Providing exceptional customer experience is at the core of their offering and is crucial for them to thrive. With the new normal setting in, customers are increasingly going digital and adopting self-serve channels. Chatbots or Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) have become the centerpiece of this shift. In the last few months, IVA adoption among financial institutions has been rapid and customer adoption of this technology has more than tripled.
This however does not mean that all IVAs are enabling financial institutions to offer premier customer experiences.
Understanding the spectrum of experiences provided by bots
With the rising adoption of IVAs, there is a rise in the companies that offer IVA solutions too. Many incumbents who have been serving financial institutions for several years have added bots to their suite of offerings. They offer this solution either by developing technology capabilities in-house or by partnering with IVA vendors.
With so many different vendors offering this solution, the experiences offered by different bots also vary. The most commonly seen experience currently is where the IVAs are used to redirect the customer to the appropriate pages based on the request. Let us take an example and deep dive - When a customer asks a bot to transfer money to an account, bots in the industry process this in several different ways -
- Most bots redirect the customer to an online banking page to complete the same transaction and lose the complete context of the conversation
- A few bots redirect the customer to an online banking page to complete the same transaction and will retain context from the message & pre-fill the forms with data from the customer’s message
- Very few bots complete the entire transaction during the conversation with the bot itself
Ideal Experiences provided by Bots
Which of the above three ways of processing a customer request offers the most ideal customer experience?
To understand this let us look at offerings from a few of the world’s most customer-centric companies - Google, Apple & Amazon. All these companies invest millions of dollars every month to understand customer needs and behavior to continuously improve customer experience.
When we speak with Google Assistant or Siri or Alexa, which are virtual assistants offered to the public by these companies, the assistant offers a fullscreen experience & fulfills the user request during the interaction itself.
For example, when we ask these assistants what the weather is or what 2+2 is, they process the request & respond instantly with the answer rather than redirecting us to a weather app or a calculator.
To get context specific to the financial industry, Interface ran customer experiments to understand how customers who regularly interact with financial in feel about the different experiences offered by bots. An overwhelming 81% of respondents disliked the ‘re-direction’ experiences provided by the bots and strongly preferred bots that fulfill the request on the same screen.
The reason for the majority of customers disliking the re-direction experience is because the medium of interaction for the user completely switches. The customer has to switch from talking to an IVA to interacting with a webpage which makes the entire experience very primitive & non-intuitive.
In conclusion, all customer-centric companies and industries are heading towards empowering bots towards task completion and not task redirection, leading to more instances of instant gratification & improved customer experience. The redirection based experiences, powered by a lot of online banking vendors & other incumbents serving financial institutions in partnership with generic IVA vendors offer a lot of technological & customer experience challenges for financial institutions.
With the ever-increasing adoption of IVAs by customers today, it is also very important for financial institutions to know about the different vendors in the space and make an informed choice about the IVA vendor they partner with. You can access the guide on how to pick the right Intelligent Virtual Assistant vendor here.