Digital to the Core: Chatbots, AI, Open Banking and APIs

Banking providers must continue to step up to plate and meet consumer expectations. Digital banking solutions are table stakes, not something only tech-savvy Millennials crave.

A crowded marketplace and the speed at which new technologies are revolutionizing banking makes crafting the right digital presence overwhelming for many financial institutions. Consumers now expect their banking provider to provide a secure, frictionless digital experience — one that’s easy to use, convenient and fits seamlessly into their everyday lives. With competition increasing across the industry, the stakes are high. If your experience falls short and consumers get frustrated, it will drive both money and relationships elsewhere.

Fortunately there are multiple emerging digital strategies and technologies that are improving the customer experience for mobile banking users. Voice-enabled platforms, chatbots and AI assistants are emerging as one of the hottest technologies — for both banking providers and consumers alike. This trend is definitely something banks and credit unions must pay attention to.

It is no longer a question of if consumers are willing to interact with digital assistants; they are already doing it. Many financial service have successfully launched proof-of-concept tests for chatbots, thanks to recent advancements in conversational interfaces and voice recognition. Regardless of whether the platform is Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Amazon Echo or Google Home, these solutions offer a new avenue of access that reduces friction in the consumer journey.

But simply having this technology in place is not enough to ensure a successful digital presence. Personalization and situational awareness is crucial to avoid deploying technologies and applications that fall short of high customer expectations. An impactful customer journey begins with a high level of situational awareness. All touchpoints must feel like they are personalized to each customer, and that the app or intelligent assistant they are interacting with was designed specifically to handle their unique needs.

In an always-on world, there is a fine line banking providers walk to avoid information burnout. It is crucial that the actions an intelligent assistance is recommending to a customer is smart, but just as natural as talking to a human. These actions must push people naturally in the direction they need to go to, with a goal to help them find an answer in the easiest way possible.

Banks must also consider the bigger picture of its digital technologies. A consistent experience is key across every user touchpoint and vital for building consumer trust, and repeat engagement with these technologies. Bottom line? It must work how it’s supposed to, for both customer retention and acquisition purposes.

Achieving a consistent user experience is possible, especially if banks implement Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are software-to-software interfaces that enable partners and consumers to perform business functions and to securely exchange data which is otherwise confined within a proprietary system. These interfaces allow organizations to build out new app functionalities faster, more efficiently and open digital ecosystems, facilitating innovation and ultimately a better customer experience.

Most importantly, APIs create the infrastructure needed to deliver that consistent user experience, giving users the ability to bank anywhere at any time by establishing secure universal access across many platforms and devices. There is a major competitive advantage for banks who implement an API frameworks enabling them to move more quickly then those within the industry that do not.

There is no denying the industry is seeing a rapid movement among consumers in adopting new platforms and devices to handle their transactions, deposits and general banking needs. As digital currencies and AR/VR technologies are on the horizon as the next big disruptors within the banking and financial services, we must stay one step ahead. The competition for customers will never slow down as new technology is deployed. A well thought out, digital at the core of banking strategy will not only engage customers, but retain them and foster a healthy pipeline of new referrals.

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