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Conversational Banking Is a Competitive Necessity in a Remote-Everything World

Conversational voice banking was already gaining prominence in the financial services industry before the pandemic hit. Then, its importance was heightened and deployment accelerated when COVID-19 started sweeping across the globe, limiting person-to-person (read: banker-to-customer) contact. Thankfully, the level of security now possible is concurrently amping up consumer receptivity to conversational banking.

For financial institutions that have yet to adopt conversational banking, the potential user base already exists. Nearly two-in-five U.S. adults are now users of smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. In November 2020, eMarketer estimated that 128.0 million people in the US used a voice assistant – 44.2% of internet users and 38.5% of the total population.

Consumers are programming themselves to find things using their voices. They’re doing less button-pressing and more speaking to control their entertainment experiences, for example—from Amazon Fire TV to Apple TV. These changing consumer habits in non-financial aspects of everyday life are setting the stage for voice tech to take hold in personal finances. In short, consumers are becoming accustomed to the convenience of digital voice assistants—and expect it, even from their banks.

The magic behind voice banking isn’t just the convenience of the device; it’s the artificial intelligence that powers intelligent customer self-service. In the words of Business Insider, “Banks are leveraging algorithms on the front end to smooth customer identification and authentication, mimic live employees through chatbots and voice assistants, deepen customer relationships, and provide personalized insights and recommendations.” The best part? New enhancements including AI combined with voice biometrics will unlock a new level of loyalty among financial institution customers.

One of the biggest draws of AI-backed voice technology will be the ability to engage customers like never before—through easy-to-use Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools, for instance. It can eliminate the need for customers to hunt and peck through menus to find detailed information about their saving and spending. They can instead ask a simple question using natural language, such as “How much should I budget for take-out based on my spending on restaurants over the past six months?” And one thing is for certain: Technology that enables meaningful interactions with customers when they’re away from the branch is even more important amidst and after the pandemic.

The aggregate potential cost savings for banks from AI applications is estimated at $447 billion by 2023, according to Autonomous Next research. Notably, the front office (conversational banking) and middle office savings account for $416 billion of that total.

Today, smart speakers and smartphones are the vehicles for conversational voice banking, but in the near future, voice banking will become ubiquitous by riding on the Internet of Things. The Amazons, Googles and Apples of the world are right now laying the groundwork for our everyday reality to be controlled by continual voice commands with technologies we have yet to experience. Making banking details accessible to a virtual personal assistant will empower consumers to purchase, subscribe, buy and reserve with their voice—literally, by “just saying the word.” Financial institutions now deploying conversational banking are not only providing a smooth, modern customer self-service experience today, they’re laying a foundation for the next generation of customer engagement.

If conversational banking wasn’t given serious consideration by financial institutions before the pandemic, the time has come. This intelligent customer self-service technology is a competitive necessity in our newly minted, “remote-everything” world.



Comments: (1)

Richard Kalas
Richard Kalas - GFT Group - London 28 July, 2021, 10:48Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Voice is only part of the story here. The real value comes from the technology platforms required to support speech recognition and Natural Language Processing. The "speech to text" and NLP create a simple mechanism for capture, audit, analysis and machine learning at a scale and pace not previously seen. Businesses are able to harvest knowledge from all their customer service interactions to create autonomous AI offerings with access to a vast knowledge base of information.

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