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5 Ways Financial Institutions Can Ensure Adoption of a New Virtual Assistant

Americans have warmed up to virtual assistants in the wake of the pandemic, when many services had to be reimagined as digital alternatives. According to an Ipsos poll of 2,010 U.S. adults, 69 percent of respondents said they’ve used an online or mobile virtual assistant to get answers to their questions and or help resolve issues, and nearly as many (68%) feel favorable towards using one. But perhaps most significant was the poll finding that favorability jumped 16 points to 84 percent among respondents who had actually used one of these digital sidekicks.

So, how can banks and credit unions capitalize on these findings and achieve the elevated customer experience (CX), as well as the savings, that an artificial intelligence-powered interactive virtual assistant (IVA) can deliver? Help customers and members develop a taste for bot service by first coaxing them to give it a try.

Here are five ways that financial institutions can engage with their customers and members to encourage them to test out a new interactive virtual assistant, which will maximize investment in the technology:

1) Meet your patrons where they are, in the interaction channel of their choice. An interactive virtual assistant can be utilized across multiple interaction channels and integrate with any contact center solution for a seamless customer/member experience. Have your IVA peek in via a screen pop while your customer or member is handling their banking to offer an easier way to get things done. In addition to serving as a virtual receptionist, IVAs can act as a virtual teller to retrieve account balances, list and search transactions, make payments, transfer funds and more.

2) Offer a quick demo during a one-on-one appointment. According to Pew Research, “lack of comfort and familiarity with technology” is a common barrier to adoption. Just 26% of internet users ages 65 and over say they feel very confident when using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices to do the things they need to do online. Seniors are also more likely to say they need others to show them how to use new digital tools.

For all ages, the intimidation associated with using a new digital tool, such as an IVA, can be overcome simply, with one-on-one, in-person support.

3) Send a mailer to customers or members introducing your institution’s new virtual assistant. Include written step-by-step instructions to test out the AI assistant, as well as a QR code that can be scanned to pull up an instructional video.

A survey conducted by Harris Poll suggests that preference for either reading or watching videos as a learning tool can be influenced by age. People who grew up in the digital age tend to prefer videos. Offer both options to cater to cast a wider net!

4) Host a training webinar. A live online event allows your institution to engage with your customers or members in a meaningful way. A detailed demo could be followed by a Q&A with an online instructor. Send participants a webinar agenda in advance, and invite them to submit questions beforehand so that the presentation can be tailored to their areas of interest.

A webinar is flexible, it’s convenient, and it’s effective…and bonus, you can reach a large number of bank customers or credit union members, wherever they are, during a single half-hour window.

5) Create a giveaway that rewards patrons for exploring your financial institution’s new interactive virtual assistant on their own. It’s no secret that people love to win stuff, and gamification is a great way to engage and motivate your accountholders. As explained in the whitepaper Customer Engagement: The Role of Gamification, “The effectiveness of gamification has been confirmed with regard to several purposes concerning customers such as increasing their engagement, enhancing their creativity, initiating learning, changing behaviors, fostering technology adoption and providing customers with enjoyable experiences.”

Participants could, for example, receive two contest entries for completing a three-minute tutorial and an additional entry for interacting with the IVA to handle their banking needs, every day that the contest runs. Experience creates understanding. And how many people still go to the bank to deposit checks once they’ve figured out how to use mobile check deposit?


Only half (50%) of respondents in the Ipsos poll reported having ever used an online or mobile virtual assistant offered by their financial institution…that’s a lot of bank customers and credit union members waiting to be converted to virtual financial assistant users. Know you can catch most all with these five engagement strategies—and have the confidence to invest in next-generation CX technology.


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