Leading consumer banks are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) to automate key processes, improve customer relationships, and maximize the value of their data. Chatbots that leverage AI and natural language processing (NLP) have become a critical aspect of this transformation. “More than two-thirds of top global financial services firms have a chatbot on their app,” Forrester reports, “and a slightly lower number also deploys them in their online banking.”

Chatbots are designed to understand and interact naturally with humans. This gives them a unique advantage over manual digital banking interfaces. Chatbots are much more forgiving in their interactions, even when executing complex and secure tasks on behalf of users.

Chatbot capabilities are becoming more targeted and sophisticated as well. As we will find, chatbots are valuable tools for basic transactions on the part of customers and workflows on the part of employees. In time, they will evolve to become proactive assistants — sending alerts, providing advice, and playing a more active role in critical business processes.

Banking leaders must familiarize themselves with the existing capabilities and future opportunities chatbots provide to maintain a competitive edge — both in terms of customer satisfaction and operational success. Here’s a closer look at how the financial services industry is evolving with the use of chatbots.

An Essential and Versatile Tool in Banking

Chatbots are fast becoming must-have self-service tools in banking in two categories: internal-facing chatbots used by employees and external-facing chatbots used by customers. Despite these categorizations, chatbots are growing in their scope of capabilities and may soon function in both capacities simultaneously.

The Advantages of Chatbots for Banking Customers

Modern customer-facing chatbots can perform tasks by text command, such as retrieving account balance information, answering account-related questions, or making payments. Capital One, Bank of America and other leading institutions have virtual assistants that provide many of these capabilities today.

With these capabilities, banks can help consumers avoid waiting on hold for a human customer service representative for comparable levels of service. By competently answering simple questions and performing simple tasks, chatbots provide customers 24/7 access to support. Many chatbots interface with other platforms, allowing customers to transfer money via a text message.

Consumers are still warming up to the idea, but these chatbots can increasingly handle sensitive information and carry out regulation-compliant tasks on behalf of customers. These responsibilities might include performing credit checks or processing applications for loans, mortgages, and credit cards — all within a single interaction with customers.

Banks are also prioritizing proactive chatbots, which connect with customers if key information is missing or reach out to ask customers pertinent questions if an account irregularity occurs. As chatbots become more sophisticated, they can become even more involved in banking tasks. In time, specialized chatbots could assist elderly customers or customers with disabilities, helping them take more personal control of their finances. Chatbots could also increasingly serve as alternatives to traditional keyboards, devices, phones, and in-person branch visits.

The Advantages of Chatbots to Employees

Both consumers and business leaders are familiar with chatbots that provide customer support online and over the phone. But chatbots naturally can help internal teams retrieve critical information, manage workflows, and collaborate in digital environments.

This includes simple use cases, such as requesting information about a customer or account. But the same chatbot could help employees with daily prioritization, provide employees with technical support, or proactively notify employees about urgent requirements.

In time, banks can train chatbots to execute multi step tasks using nothing more than the natural-language text commands of a single employee. For example, an employee might ask a chatbot to prepare a ratchet mortgage for a customer by listing interest rates, timespans, and commands in the employee’s natural typing. If the chatbot is missing information to complete the request, he will proactively ask the employee for the information. The chatbot would automatically develop a presentation for that mortgage, confirm its validity, and deliver it to the customer.

In the future, a single bank could customize dozens of chatbot tasks unique to that organization. The more refined the chatbot, the greater the competitive advantage that chatbot provides the bank. As the bank adds functions and system integrations to the chatbot, the chatbot becomes an enterprise-grade digital tool within the organization.

Setting Your Pathway to Adoption

Banking is a highly competitive industry where customer satisfaction is critical, and consumers are increasingly turning to digital, remote channels for their banking needs. That’s why chatbots have become a crucial part of any modern bank’s portfolio of digital technology investments.

Already, it’s easy to imagine a future where every positive customer interaction begins with a chatbot. Many will end with a digital interface or human interaction, while others will conclude with the same chatbot. When chatbots are used correctly, every transaction will result in a satisfied customer.

Now is the time to consider how chatbots can transform your operations and customer experiences. Contact a chatbot expert today to learn more about our solutions for financial institutions.

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