How intelligent automation is changing the financial industry

Why banking, finance and insurance industries should embrace virtual agents before they are left behind

By Sanjeev Kumar, VP EMEA at

The relationship of technology with the world of finance is a relationship of contradiction. Innovation is a crucial part of the industry, and fintech in particular is a cutting-edge space. However, traditional banks remain reluctant to embrace new technologies that they view as risky and untested globally. If recent trends like the widespread shift to digital banking have demonstrated anything, it’s that the world of finance is in the midst of a seismic change and there are even bigger changes to come.

2022 has been a difficult year in all sectors. Younger generations are less loyal to service providers, brands and workplaces. In an unstable world, organizations need to stand out. Consumers are spoiled for choice and are pressed for time. It has never been more essential for banks and financial institutions to offer their customers top-notch service and implement rock-solid employee loyalty programs.

The solution lies in artificial intelligence (AI). Intelligent automation, virtual agents, and conversational AI are proven systems for financial institutions to directly manage customer and employee churn. As an ever-increasing number of financial organizations adopt these technologies, it is no longer a question of if but when conversational AI will become a necessary and mainstream solution in the financial industry.

How Intelligent Automation Works

Intelligent automation combines artificial intelligence and automation technologies to automate low-level tasks. For example, freeing up workers to focus on the tasks they were trained to do, rather than low-level administration and simple customer requests.

While intelligent automation can take many forms, one of the most common forms we see in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industries is that of virtual agents. Virtual agents use advanced natural language algorithms in the form of conversational AI to understand user intent of internal and external queries and provide contextual responses. For example, one virtual agent may be in place for customer complaints, while another will be installed to handle internal service desk requests. At the individual level, the benefit is clear for employees – job satisfaction – and for customers – service satisfaction.

Intelligent Automation in Action

It’s not just a recommendation to embrace a modern, digital customer banking experience, but at this point it’s an expectation. With banks and insurers being slow to get started, new entrants to the industry have been able to quickly capture market share by offering sleek, efficient, and user-friendly services powered by AI technologies.

Call centers generate a lot of anger from customers; they are clumsy and time-consuming; However, human interaction still plays a vital role in customer service processes. The problem is that human interaction should only be used when needed, not as a first port of call. For example, if a virtual agent can’t resolve a query, someone will be on hand to lend their expertise to resolve whatever issue it may be.

However, thanks to conversational AI, this is rarely a problem that banks and financial institutions have to deal with any longer. With the right implementation, virtual agents can resolve over 90% of customer queries. Any remaining service tickets are often more complex and can be handled by human agents, creating a streamlined, yet highly personalized service.

So what is holding organizations back?

In a word, fear. Fear of customers’ reaction to “bots” responding to their complaints. Fear around the security of allowing AI to access vast swaths of customer data. Fear of cost-benefit ratios. 85% of executives agree that fear often or always hinders innovation efforts in their organizations. Yet nine out of ten organizations do nothing to allay these fears.

While understandable, these fears are increasingly misplaced as advances in conversational AI technology have helped dispel such concerns. Clever virtual agents ensure that poorly designed chatbots are consigned to history. Security is also a priority with these solutions, ensuring that customer and query data is stored and protected appropriately. And intelligent automation doesn’t have to be expensive. Businesses can choose the scope and scope of automation they want to use, with the flexibility to test a solution before going full-blast. More importantly, conversational AI and automation technologies are no longer reserved for large enterprises with huge economies of scale; small businesses can create bespoke automation tools that also work at their scale.

Personalization is a growing facet of conversational AI and a growing priority for customers. As AI technology advances, new applications within BFSI will break out – from detecting fraudulent activity to tracking patterns to identifying potential fraud attempts by understanding keystrokes of customers and voice models – and the opportunities are endless.

The future is bright, the future is automated

Now is the time for the steady and streamlined adoption of virtual agents and conversational AI. With digital banking becoming the primary form of banking, especially as consumers become more digitally savvy, creating a cohesive digital offering for customers has never been more critical, and conversational AI has a huge role to play in enabling this.

Creating an optimal experience for customers and employees is only possible when built on a solid foundation, and it is essential that companies have the right technology to achieve this. And when it comes to building foundations, conversational AI has a huge role to play. This technology not only helps customers receive higher quality services, but employees see less time spent on mundane, low-level administrative tasks. The benefits even reach business decision makers, who can achieve greater customer satisfaction, better employee retention, and more elegant and efficient internal and external communication resolution through conversational AI.

Of course, it’s important to note that every organization’s AI solution won’t be the same, but it’s abundantly clear that very few organizations will be able to live without it in the years to come.

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