Reimaging the customer experience
What makes a consumer choose one particular brand over another? Cost? Convenience? As customers get used to more personalised, engaging and seamless interactions and experiences in all aspect of their lives, so too have they come to expect a similar level of service from their financial services provider.
Chad Hamblin, worldwide financial services industry director at Microsoft, says that most banks understand this, and are exploring how they can improve their ability to better engage with their customers.
“Today, every customer is a digital customer, and this requires banks to not only digitise their services, but make their entire offering better aligned to customer needs,” he says. “They need to treat every interaction with the customer as more of a conversation – one that is natural, intuitive and personal.”
To achieve this, many banks are exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). “It’s high on their priority agenda and we’re starting to see more and more banks experimenting with this technology,” Hamblin says. “Applications range from using robo-advisors to help answer common customer queries, all the way through to running algorithms that anticipate customer issues before they arise.”
Monique Dahler, worldwide financial services director and AI lead at Microsoft, says that financial institutions see AI as a key enabler to accelerate their transformation to a digital business.
“Through AI, banks can provide innovative customer experiences at any point in time through any channel,” she says. “AI is a key driver to realise cost and operational efficiency, better risk management, and secure customer acquisition and growth.
“In its simplest form, it can automate manual tasks – such as generating reports or answering common enquiries, freeing up staff to carry out more value-added tasks. But it also has the potential to transform entire business models and revolutionise more strategic functions such as financial analysis, asset allocation and forecasting.”
To help banks on their journey towards adopting and harnessing the power of AI, Microsoft has developed the Microsoft Bot Framework, which provides everything needed to quickly build and connect a bot to whatever channel and integrate with popular tools such as Skype and Office 365.
“This is not just about providing a product, though,” Dahler explains. “At Microsoft, we believe that the value of AI is not about getting a quick chat bot in place. Where we make a difference is that we help banks take advantage of our entire AI value chain. We give them access to our entire product suite and connect them with industry experts, helping them to transform data into intelligent actions.”
For banks that are considering exploring the potential of AI but are put off by the time, effort and costs it could take – Microsoft also has a number of AI early adopter programmes. “For example, the Intelligent Bots EAP is a programme that delivers a customer or employee facing bot into pilot in a short timeframe” Dahler explains. “We help them to create a solution and pilot it with real end users. It’s a great way of getting AI developments off the ground quickly.”
Hamblin says that for those banks who are willing to explore the potential of AI now, the possibilities are endless. “We’re in conversations with customers who are developing everything from robo-advisor capabilities – using AI as a vehicle to do low cost trading without human intervention or as a first line of communication with the customer – through to using AI and social capabilities as the canary in the mine to identify problems and issues before they progress and cause problems. This is just the beginning of the transformation of our industry.”
As we shared in earlier blogs, at Sibos Microsoft will demonstrate how It is empowering financial institutions to drive digital transformation with solutions to reimagine the customer experience, empower employees with a secure and productive digital workplace, optimize operations through improved risk insight and regulatory compliance, and transform products with agile and interconnected business models and real-time predictive digital processes. We have an extensive suite of events planned and opportunities to meet Microsoft executives during the show.
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This article was originally published in The Record