There are two main categories of chatbots for banking, internal chatbots (used by employees) and external chatbots (used by customers).
Like most industries, the obvious use case for external chatbots is customer support. Chatbots give customers 24/7 access to support and can competently answer simple, repetitive questions. The ROI for this use case is easy to measure, which is why this use case has taken off for most businesses.
The second category of chatbot usage within an organization is customer enablement. These bots allow the customer to do something and are integrated with the internal system. For example, the customer can query their account balance or transfer money to another person simply by sending a text in natural language.
The third category of chatbot usage is the proactive chatbot. This chatbot is used to proactively seek information from the customer. For example, the bank may be missing some details on the customer and the chatbot is used to seek out that information. Another example might be that the bank has spotted a suspicious transaction and uses a chatbot to verify the transaction with the customer.
Of course, the boundaries between these categories of chatbots are not well defined, as the functionality of a given chatbot may cover all three categories.
As the chatbots become more sophisticated they can begin to cover much more of the customer interaction.
For certain jobs a chatbot is better than a human because it is cheaper to run, it scales, it is available 24/7 and it has instant access to all computer software and cross-selling opportunities.
For certain jobs, a chatbot is better than a website because it is designed to understand humans. Unlike a website and other software which demands that humans understand the interface and use it correctly, a chatbot is very forgiving in its interactions with humans, as it can understand natural language. In addition, it is vastly cheaper to create chatbots with the same functionality as websites or apps in many cases. Chatbots also naturally are able to manage workflows that websites and apps don’t naturally lend themselves to doing.
There are still a huge number of tasks that are better done by a human or done through a graphical interface, but over time, as chatbots improve, the number of tasks better done by chatbots will increase.
It is easy to imagine a future where every customer interaction begins with a chatbot and graphical interfaces or humans are brought into the process as required. For example, a customer could ask to open an account on the webchat. The chatbot could guide them to the relevant forms, answer any questions they have, and make sure that all the relevant details are adequately captured.
The same applies to any multi-step service. The chatbot would allow the customer to ask contextual questions and complete the tasks in the order they desire.
There is a huge opportunity for banks to start to develop this type of chatbot workflow that gives huge convenience and power to the end customer.
In the same way that the chatbot can guide end customers through a given process, chatbots for operations can allow employees to complete many tasks without logging into any system. This is especially relevant if the task is multi-step and involves another person.
For example, informing the chatbot of a holiday, asking about inventory or for some customer information, logging an expense or asking for a sales number. The same chatbot could even provide technical support. Any information that the employee needs or any small task that they need to do can be done by that chatbot.
Again, the benefit is multiplied if the task is multi-step and customized in a way that is difficult to systematize. For example, it could be:
Prepare a presentation for Mr. Lloyd, on a ratchet mortgage with 2% for the first 6 months and 3% thereafter. Get it validated by John in mortgages and send an email to Mr. Lloyd with the message “valid for 1 day”.
The more functions and system integrations that are added to the chatbot, the more valuable it will become as an assistant.
While some banking functions could be built as vertical solutions such as payments, investor information, and account solutions, many solutions will be customized and will be a source of competitive advantage for the bank in question.
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