It's true that no-one wakes up on a Saturday morning excited about paying a bill online, renewing their car insurance or settling their credit card account. These interactions with financial services providers are generally out of necessity, and not desire. Within the financial services sector misery reduction during these moments is often more important than increasing customer experience - where tasks can be fulfilled as simply and efficiently as possible.
If we use the example that I’m sure has been playing out on the roads across the UK in the last few weeks - skidding on an icy road and hitting a tree. During the course of sorting this out with an insurance provider, the customer touchpoints are likely to include:
- Mobile web - checking email to check on car insurance provider, then gathering basic info like the provider’s phone number
- Phone - calling to get an initial response
- Desktop - while at work that afternoon, following an email link from the insurer to check on the claim via the My Account function on their website
- Email – to answer a query from the claims handler
- Laptop – accessing the insurer’s My Account portal to add missing details from earlier
- …and often multiple times across these different channels, platforms and devices
This customer journey is often fragmented, doesn’t maintain any context to the individual customer, and wastes both the customer’s and agent’s time. Set this against increasing customer expectations outside the financial services sector infiltrating all others, and there lies a problem.
The changing customer landscape
Increasing customer expectations outside the financial services sector, from the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Apple means that consumers are looking for a seamless customer journey regardless of sector.
We’re also seeing a huge shift towards voice-based assistants. Whilst today people are using them to check the weather, play music and ask questions, we will see this change rapidly in the very near future, increasing customer engagement, ecommerce and content delivery use cases:
- 48% of UK homes will own a smart speaker in the UK by 2022, providing access to approx. 25 million people.
- This is in addition to the approximate 40 million voice-enabled smartphones in the UK today.
- Two thirds of voice-based interactions are made through smartphones.
We’re currently at the stage where the channel, from a customer experience perspective, is still in its relative infancy. However, with 80% of insurers having customers who talk about their poor digital experience (IBM Research undertaken in December 2018), this is one solution that is beginning to pique the interest of customers and businesses:
- 46% of people in the UK, when asked about dealing with their financial services providers, said using a chatbot or virtual agent will be faster and more convenient than dealing with a human (Accenture UK Financial Services UK Customer Survey 2018).
- 64% of leading-edge companies are confident that AI will deliver a more seamless and optimised customer experience. (IBM Research undertaken in December 2018)
The omnichannel conversational approach
One of the solutions to this increasing problem is engaging with customers via multiple channels and allowing them to switch seamlessly between them – so allowing customers to interact with you whenever and wherever it makes sense for them, whilst still delivering a coherent experience.
The challenge comes in the inevitable conflict between increased communications vs the need to remain efficient and ensuring the cost to serve doesn’t spiral. One answer is to use AI to deliver automated omnichannel communications on a variety of channels.
The Mando and Microsoft solution
We’re delivering these solutions for our clients across a range of sectors, including financial services. These all use the Microsoft Cognitive Services framework; a set of off-the-shelf AI-based services, hosted in Azure cloud to allow for responsive scalability, which we can use to enhance and simplify particular parts of the customer journey.
These services provide the ability to understand a message or an image and do something with it, whether that be to provide a response, translate it into another language, or work out if the customer is sad, happy or even confused – we can do all of those things using the platform.
We’re using cognitive services to deliver three key benefits to our clients and their customers:
- Customer experience: Improving acquisition, retention and overall customer experience by simplifying access to complex financial services products using digital tools.
- Cost reduction: Reducing human effort by making it easier for customers to carry out common journeys, such as making a claim, renewing and managing their products using digital channels – ultimately freeing up human resource to focus on more valuable and complex tasks.
- Innovation: Continually exploring the opportunity around new channels and AI services, with confidence that the approach will allow businesses to scale out and expand.