The rise of mobile and online transactions and online-only “challenger” banks and startups, has introduced ravenous new competition and turned existing business models upside down.

Today, everything is commoditized, and with businesses struggling to compete on price and product, delivering a better customer experience has become the key differentiator. Next-generation technologies will become crucial in this battle for consumer loyalty. For example, consumers are frustrated by needing to remember numerous passwords, or having to go through multiple identification steps when they reach a brand’s customer service team.

Automation, particularly AI-driven automation, is already helping reduce costs and improve the customer experience. Very soon, we will also see artificial intelligence (AI) driven voice activation taking over a range of customer interactions. Voice activated services such as Siri and Alexa are also becoming commonplace, which is normalizing the use of voice as a means of communicating with machines.

IMAGE: Bloomberg News

In payments and financial services, the natural evolution for this is voice biometrics, which is set to become one of the most crucial tools in customer experience in the years ahead, providing customers with a convenient way to interact without the need for lengthy and inconvenient login processes, and with no additional customer authentication required.

For instance, a large bank headquartered on the west coast has developed a voice-driven payments system that combines biometric authentication, natural language processing and artificial intelligence technologies, to allow more complex actions such as transferring funds without having to type a single character. This means that transactions are secure, as they can only be verified by the user’s unique voice, whilst remaining convenient for the customer. The bank’s customer hub can give more time with agents to handle more complex interactions, such as a mortgage application.

Eventually, this kind of technology will even be able to upsell to customers, and offer highly personalized financial advice without the need for a human agent to be present. For customers, these technologies result in faster issue resolution, lower wait times, reduced customer effort and improved customer satisfaction.

The cost-savings are compelling, since live customer support agents normally charge by the hour, even a 30 second reduction in call time results in significant cost savings. Completing an entire customer service interaction via virtual means is even more cost effective.

The industry is advancing in leaps and bounds in an attempt to meet the needs of younger generations, and voice recognition is just the tip of the iceberg. The near future will see augmented and virtual reality, and even holograms in use, as companies look to meet the rising expectations of consumers. It’s up to all organizations to ensure they are on the right side of the curve.