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Guest Column: Chatbots and AI are rising as financial assistants

19-September-2017
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Guest Column: Chatbots and AI are rising as financial assistants


Artificial Intelligence is fundamentally changing business processes. With advancements in Natural Language Processing and deep machine learning, chatbots are going to become increasingly efficient in enabling both customers and businesses to access information better. As chatbots learn, they are becoming better at ‘having conversations’ and their abilities range from answering basic queries to helping customers make complex decisions. 

 

It is interesting to note that, in a way, AI has enabled marketing to come to a full circle. Before the days of the Internet, we spoke to our shopkeepers, bankers and other preferred businesses on the phone or in person to answer our questions. When the Internet came along, we accomplished this a little faster by simply checking the FAQs sections on the websites of these businesses and emailing, calling or visiting them, in that order, as queries got more complicated. And now, we are back to wanting our questions answered immediately and more importantly, tailored to our specific questions. 

 

Whatsapp and WeChat are examples of game changers for small businesses. A large percentage of business conversations, customer service conversations and even purchase orders take place via such text messaging platforms and that same immediacy, near personal responses and assistance in navigating complex and technical purchases is also possible for much larger businesses through AI and chatbots.

 

AI is evolving the way companies and customers interact with each other and in some cases, changing businesses completely. There are currently AI lawyers getting hired and chatbots that are personal assistants that are almost indistinguishable from a remote human assistant. Customer service chatbots pop up on any number of websites asking if they could be of assistance and sometimes make the difference in deciding which service provider you go with. In fact, there are currently over 1,00,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone and these chatbots can even enable purchases directly in the chat window.

 

The difference between calling a customer service line and talking to a chatbot is huge, not just in terms of time saved but also in terms of cost. In the banking and healthcare sectors, the average time saved per chatbot inquiry compared with call centres is over four minutes and an expected $8 billion in cost saved by 2022.

 

The financial services space is perfect for both customers and business to reap the benefits of chatbots. There are complex products, repetitive questions, technical detailing, unsure customers and an audience that includes millennials used to the instant response that social media provides. Whether financial services companies use chatbots on their mobile apps or meet customers on messenger services, the evolving technology for both is largely the same. As these artificial intelligence powered chatbots learn, they will go from basic responses and functionality such as account balance and last payment, to more conversational interactions and tailored financial services such as investment advice and savings strategies.

 

China and Japan are already ahead of the curve with SMBC Nikko Securities using a chatbot to answer FAQs and help with new account opening, Daiwa Securities Group providing stock predictions and picks and WeChat in China is hosting a number of chatbot based payment and financial services on its platform. 

 

In India, Digibank is the first chatbot staffed mobile bank and companies like Active.ai working with banks such as Axis Bank, can enable banking services over Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and more. The growth of data and improvements in machine learning mean that chatbots can start being useful from day one and keep getting better, making this the perfect time for more financial services to embrace AI and chatbots. 

 

The author is the Founder & Director of Envigo, a full service digital agency.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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