Artificial intelligence is pushing the boundaries for customer experience

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The latest innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) are pushing the boundaries of what's possible, what's practical and what people are coming to expect from their financial institutions.

As major brands across multiple industries incorporate the first wave of bots, machine learning, robotic process automation and natural machine language into their services, consumers are navigating more of their daily tasks on their own, in real time. Those experiences are having a profound impact on financial services, as customers look for quick, frictionless ways to handle more financial tasks themselves, whenever it's most convenient.

AI technologies can satisfy the growing demand for real-time, self-service experiences in a variety of ways, from supporting more voice-enabled payments and transactions to automating complex decision making and product recommendations.
Many of the first AI developments are geared toward helping businesses extend their customer service as though they had limitless human resources. Popular brands are leading the way with pilots of interactive bots such as the Flo Chatbot from Progressive Insurance, which delivers insurance quotes at any time through Facebook Messenger.

But AI is about more than simply using digital bots to replace human interactions. It's about creating a new caliber of better, more personalized and scalable experiences driven by a combination of human potential and technology-enabled insights. With AI, people and applications can become smarter and more capable.

As AI algorithms grow in sophistication, they could help financial institutions deliver the type of intelligent personalization delivered by Amazon, Netflix and Google.

Drawing from a wealth of transactional and account data, a bot could potentially begin any interaction with an understanding of the customer's preferences, habits, demographics and financial history — plus overall market and segmentation data. Someone could ask how much they've spent on groceries over the year, for example, and receive a nearly instantaneous response.

Putting stored data to work can also lead to smarter and more personalized cross-sell offerings. By using AI to generate insights about each customer in the moment of the transaction, a financial institution can better understand what the person might be interested in and serve up offers that are truly valuable. And when machines are used to push the right insights to staff members at the right time, they have the information needed to offer smarter financial advice.

Beyond helping financial institutions offer more intelligent personalization for individuals, AI solutions may soon assist with more broad-ranging demand predictions and planning across an institution's entire customer base. Sophisticated predictive modeling algorithms could generate the insights executives need to develop the next set of products to bring to market, including sales estimates for each new offering.

AI technologies will continue to trend as technology providers find creative and interesting ways to incorporate them into current processes. Financial institutions will want to start thinking about which processes are strong candidates for AI automation, ensure they understand how these processes work today and identify the data used to support them.

Financial institutions may want to avoid the temptation to redesign a process as they're automating it. Automating a newly defined process can result in a poorly executed AI strategy, which could erode trust rather than building loyalty. Prioritize improving speed and fixing any quality gaps in existing process, then consider adding new options such as biometric elements.

As financial institutions begin planning for a future that involves AI, customer needs should remain at the center of their decisions. The right strategy comes down to understanding how people want to be served.

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