Embracing Conversational AI in Financial Services

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The modern customer lifecycle is rapid, research-based, and almost entirely online. 81% of retail customers have done online research before buying an item, even if they buy in the store. Those customers who don't do pre-research, however, are more likely to ask questions and need guidance before they make a firm decision. Many customers who have done research have one last question to ask before they're ready to buy. Today's clients are self-directed but don't always know what they want - or need to know something very specific before they buy. That is why live chat using conversational AI has become such a popular form of customer support.

The secret behind live chat is that the attendant is almost never 100% live. You don't need a live person for every five to ten customers looking to chat through the website or app. With conversational AI, customers can engage and have questions answered by a friendly chatbot program filled with answers to your FAQs and a helpful search function. At the same time, the AI can ask clarifying questions, gather useful data, and fill out CRM profiles for each client who chats. All while entertaining and providing support for customers with questions. If the questions ever enter certain topics or become too complicated, the bot can pass the customer to a live support technician ready to provide human solutions.

What is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI is a very intelligent chatbot that serves as a virtual chat support tech. The chatbot is a program that can hold a chat conversation with a human. They use a combination of programmed responses, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and AI self-learning techniques to provide a facsimile of live conversation. As NLP and AI self-learning technology have both developed rapidly, chatbots have become much more satisfying and productive to talk to.

Effectively, however, a conversational AI is a virtual assistant rooted in growth driven web and design and customer engagement. They can answer an infinite number of online chats, never get tired, and most predictable question-answers can be leveraged from an internal knowledge base or a collection of other systems for easy reference. By 'chatting' with a friendly AI, customers can check their accounts, get basic advice, and even complete basic transaction. 

What Financial Services Gain from Conversational AI Support

In financial services, clients are often making a serious personal or business decision. They weigh the options and explore alternate solutions as part of the decision-making process. Having someone there to answer questions is a powerful accelerator to this process that might normally take hours of careful research. An intelligent chatbot can also walk clients through managing their accounts, making transfers, and keeping up with long-term financial plans, all through a conversational - and therefore more approachable - interface of live chat.

Conversational AI provides interactive and detailed support, keeping unsure clients engaged while providing useful information. Any question too complicated, however, and the chatbot will route clients to a live expert or, if one is not available, prompt them to book a consultation or send an email. When it comes to virtual customer service, conversational AI is the cutting-edge for aiding in delicate yet client-driven conversions.

Conversational AI is also the key to connecting to Millennials and younger generations entering into their financial planning stages.

How Millennials Work with Chatbots and Conversational AIs

Millennials, who are now 25 to 40 years old, have been playing with chatbots for most of their lives. The first clunky chatbot programs hit the internet in the 90s, when Millennials were young children to teenagers. They were among the first to play with the chatbots until the cracks in the programs showed. More than any previous generation, millennials like and even trust chatbots. Instead of being offended that a robot is talking to them, a millennial will realize they're talking to a friendly bot. Ask the right questions, pull the right levers, and out comes the answers they need.

All those years of playing with chatbots have made them a friendly 'face'. 40% of millennials chat with bots daily. Over 60% of millennials regularly use chatbots to purchase online goods. 70% of those report enjoying the chatbot experience.

Millennials are not shy about asking a chatbot what the current interest rates are or which plans include dental insurance. In fact, they're more likely to stick with a website that has a capable and information-rich chatbot to answer questions and aid their immediate decision-making. 67% of surveyed millennials report preferring to purchase from brands that use a chatbot.

The Role of Conversational AI in Customer Service

Chatbot virtual support serves seven key roles in online customer service. The more intelligent your conversational AI, the more purposes it can serve effectively. Most importantly, a smart chatbot can respond to the chat and provide basic answers at all hours, with or without live chat techs ready to take over. Beyond that, conversational AI can take a lot of pressure off of live support by providing a wealth of knowledge, prompting consultation bookings, and even getting to know customers better through conversational surveys.

  • 24/7 responsive live chat support
  • Account management and basic transactions
  • Quick answers for known questions
  • Question-based support
  • Conversational website search function
  • Escalation to live chat support
  • Promoting to book a consultation
  • Gathering information via conversational survey

How COVID Skyrocketed the Importance of Automated Chat Support

When the pandemic hit, the move to online-only business was a tidal wave. Suddenly, everyone was on lockdown and trying to take care of their to-do list without visiting in person. At the same time, anxiety was at a peak and every decision felt critical. In this time, the need for online support across the board skyrocketed. Live support in particular came in high demand as the population rushed to their computers for advice and online services.

A study in Australia found chatbot use increased by nearly six times pre-pandemic messaging rates.  During COVID, messaging increased by 20% in a single week.

Customers who needed answers quickly found that websites with chatbot live-chat support could provide those answers without delay. 

How Financial Services can Implement Balanced Live and AI Chat Support

In financial services, personal advising is also a vital part of helping clients. There are many circumstances and topics where a chatbot - even an AI - should not advise in a professional role. The key is to smoothly transition customers from the automated chat experience to connect with a real financial services professional who can make trustworthy assessments and give personalized advice. 

There are two ways to transfer your clients from AI to a human expert. The first is the quick transition. Your chatbot helpfully lets the client know that their issue is beyond the tool's knowledge base, but that a live chat rep is ready to take over with more in-depth answers. The second is a consultation. If there are no live reps available, or the question is consultation-specific, your chatbot will prompt the client to book their meeting in the earliest convenient timeslot - thus streamlining the question-to-consultation process.

Book a Consultation to Plan Your Conversational AI Support

Each conversational AI is unique, programmed with the personality of the brand and all the special knowledge that your clients are most likely to ask about. They are given navigation of the sitemap and a search feature to direct clients to the right page. They can be built to give surveys and collect the answers as data. Then the glass ceiling is programmed, letting chatbots know when to transfer a client to a human expert. 

For a financial services brand, conversational AI is both cutting-edge and reminiscent of the cozy armchair consultations in our industry's history. AI can 'tend the shop' while everyone else is asleep and provide industry-standard answers for common market, policy, and service questions. Lastly, conversational AIs are familiar and welcoming to the 25-to 40-year-old millennials embarking on their financial plans.

Are you ready to build a conversational AI for your financial services brand? Book a consultation to discuss the unique AI design for your services and needs.