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Human vs Humanoid: The changing face of finance

Being ‘digital first’ is the recipe for success for any business. As our dependence on technology increases, businesses are recognising that they must change their game-plan. This is no truer than in the finance industry, where customers are more connected than ever before, using an array of digital and social channels to contact companies with questions and complaints. Gone are the days when the banking experience took place mainly in the branch or over the odd phone call. This advancement has led to the financial services industries realising that they must harness technology and more recently, AI to improve customer engagement. Swedish Bank, Swedbank is a great example of this and its web assistant Nina has an average of 30,000 conversations per month and can handle more than 350 different customer questions.

With AI on the rise it’s been proposed by Narrative Science, that by 2018  62 percent of organisations will have shifted to AI by 2018. Moreover, with continued growth in customer engagement, banks must take action to ensure that their customers are satisfied. But what does the increase in AI mean for the personal service that humans provide? Will the rise in chatbots see the decline in human value?

Chatbots are a growing population

Customers are embracing the convenience of technology at a phenomenal rate. After all, everything can be done on your mobile in the convenience of your home, from groceries to gaming. There is nothing the digital revolution hasn’t touched. In our ever-encroaching digital world customers don’t only desire efficiency, they demand it. Which is why tech like AI chatbots, which deliver fast answers with minimal effort is great for both parties.

Research conducted by SugarCRM and Flamingo discovered that just over three quarters of people surveyed said they’re comfortable when interacting with AI and report that it has increased their satisfaction. It’s a figure which translates to the growing implementation in businesses, where 73 percent said chatbots are relevant and 60 percent would like to use them in the next five years.

The finance industry is no stranger to this, where banks are routinely rolling the technology out. RBS’s chatbot ‘Luvo’ is just one of the ways banking is harnessing AI to improve the customer experience. The bot reflects how banks are disrupting the traditional customer experience to meet digital demands. UK start up Habito takes this further, providing customers with the world’s first ever mortgage advice chatbot- disrupting what is conventionally thought of as a lengthy procedure.

The chatbots of the future

For chatbots to be meaningful long term they must provide real benefits to the customer experience. The Flamingo research found that one fifth of consumers felt disgruntled when using chatbot based service as they can’t tune into human emotion. The role customer experience plays can make or break a business – so it’s vital that businesses get this right. Especially when you consider the Gartner statistics, which reveal that 89 percent of organisations compete solely on this.

This is what the next generation of chatbots should seek to deliver. They need to do more than just churn out pre-determined answers constructed through algorithms, they need to learn to ‘think for themselves’. American bank Capital One has already paved the way for this. The ‘Eno’ chatbot can interpret conversational texts and even emojis. Despite this, it is still unable to decipher real human emotion to the same extent that a human can. A suggested practical approach would be to interlink the bot and human, so a human might be on call should a ‘emotional’ problem arise. Although chatbots are becoming more humanoid, responding emotionally to emojis is not yet in their arsenal. 

Uniting humans and chatbots

For AI to excel, humans and chatbots must collaborate. AI should streamline menial tasks where humans do not add value. Technology should empower employees and bolster their relationship with customers; giving them grounded data at their fingertips. For example, when AI and humans coincide this is when it will be at its greatest value and customers will feel at ease.

At a time when the quality of customer experience can see a business retain or wave goodbye to a customer, chatbots provide cost effective, instant and consistent aids to businesses. While the human touch will always be of value, technology must enhance human performance to add value to the customer experience.



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Tanmaya Varma

Tanmaya Varma

Global Head - Finance Industry Solutions


Member since

19 Apr 2017



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