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Using AI and machine learning to transform CX in financial services

Customer experience (CX) is key when it comes to digitalisation of services in the financial sector, and AI can provide the means to master it. Find out what today’s technology has to offer

The journey for companies in the financial services sector, as they take the path to digitalisation, has come a long way from the Internet of things to the latest automated systems and mobile integration – and taking now the next crucial steps towards intelligent automation.

Financial companies are increasingly turning to fintech startups and innovative tools that can open the doors to digital transformation, to revolutionise the customer experience. A positive customer experience can not only power lead generation and sales, but it’s a fundamental driver of customer loyalty and retention for companies. Businesses are realising that enhancing the customer journey and experience undoubtedly brings long-lasting benefits, but in order to get there, investment is essential.

First things first – what is customer experience?

Customer experience involves strategic initiatives that focus on creating a competitive advantage for businesses, by delivering optimal experiences to customers.

In a new global study by Walker analysing the future of B2B customer experience, companies were asked where they were investing to meet the changing needs of customers. The results showed that 62% are investing in understanding individual customer characteristics, while 58% are investing on simplifying processes. For businesses operating in financial services, Artificial learning (AI) and machine learning are providing tools to help in both these areas, which are major factors that can result in poor or positive customer experience.

In the world of Artifical intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the opportunities have only started to unfold, especially with chatbots and automations. But the tools are advancing quickly and at a steady pace; development does not rest, and the implementation that can be seen across the range of financial services is showing an incredible potential to forever change the way consumers interact with institutions.


How is the financial sector embracing AI?


The goal is to win over the digital natives, which are now making an incredibly large portion of the population. These consumers are tech-savvy and expect high-end customer experience. Banks, financial institutions and firms operating in the wider financial space are embracing new technology solutions and disruptive innovation for improving efficiencies in areas that range from customer support, to data and insight analysis, personal loans, insurance, and overall financial business performance.

AI tools are being harnessed by professionals in the financial services industry to gain the edge in customer intelligence. Fintech solutions that incorporate open banking, for instance, can enable firms to access individuals’ financial data, to create an accurate picture of their financial circumstances and deliver better tailored products and solutions. This technology is particularly useful for lenders and loan brokers, who are able to use open banking to assess affordability and determine customer’s eligibility for specific products.

Machine learning is also experiencing fast development and implementation. Chatbots are becoming more clever and capable, and one industry where they are really making an impact is financial advice. Also known as robo-advisors in the industry, chat automation is helping advisors to better understand customer preferences and deliver tailored advice – which also leads to better customer experience and builds up meaningful relationships.

With the help of automation and integrated AI, banks and financial institutions are becoming technologically sophisticated, advancing in their capability to attain customer insights and deliver a more personalised service. Beyond advisory, businesses are making the most of these tools for enhancing financial risk assessment and decisions, conducting accurate credit checks, pulling bank statements and even anti-money laundering reports.

At this stage, there’s much room to explore, and the market trends are showing that modern financial companies are keen on adopting new solutions to stand out from the competition. A significant 30% of large financial institutions are investing in artificial intelligence.

Here’s a few insightful statistics about the state of AI, machine learning and the financial services industry:

  • 70% of financial institutions are using machine learning (Deloitte insights). The uses range from predicting cash-flow events, proactively advising customers on spending and saving habits, building advanced credit models, detecting patterns in transactions, identifying fraudulent transactions and more.
  • 13% of financial firms said they have implemented AI technology to increase worker productivity (Narrative Science)
  • 80% of financial institutions perceive chatbots as an opportunity (Personetics)
  • 58% of financial advise firms said they would implement new technologies in 2019, with 38% investing in tech to scale and serve more clients (Schwab)


Conclusions & recommendations


Today’s technology has much to offer and much more to come, and it’s up to the most forward-thinking companies to make the most of it in order to meet the demands and expectations of digitally savvy customers.

Easier said than done? As challenging as it may look, partnerships with fintech startups represent great opportunities for companies operating in financial services. Ibby offers the latest advances in fintech including chatbots, instant messaging automation, co-browsing, workflows and open banking, to transform customer experience and help financial brands to scale.

Get started with Ibby for free, and discover how easy it can be to bring your business to the true digital era.


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Moving away from email: Embracing multichannel comms

B2C Communications are usually a complex mesh of points of contact. Using multichannel communication may be the best way forward for converting more customers.

Instant messaging, email, phone, social media – so many channels to communicate with customers lead to teams losing track of where conversations started, where they should scale to, and wasting time on deciding how to best collaborate.   

Email is one particular tool that is deeply rooted in customer communications, and as such it will be around for the long haul, especially seeing as its usage is constantly on the rise.

On average, people spend over 4 hours a day checking work emails and over 3 hours checking personal email. This always-on email culture suggests that email isn’t going away – a reason why businesses need to find a way to make the most of it.


The challenges of working with email as a team

Because email is not designed for teams but built as a one-to-one channel, there’s a few challenges that come with trying to use email to collaborate with your team:


Working through your inbox is like going down a rabbit hole


The ton of email the average worker has to process every morning has become a major hindrance for teams’ productivity.

Toggling between personal accounts and a teams’ inboxes, deciding what’s actionable, applying filters, forwarding or looping colleagues in an endless chain – it’s a struggle most teams have to deal with on a daily basis. Workers spend hours trying to get their inboxes to zero, leaving not much time to focus on the most important tasks.


Disjointed inboxes create team barriers


Companies usually create multiple addresses like info@, sales@ or support@ to provide easier ways for customers to get in contact with the relevant team. But this usually creates barriers amongst teams and complicates collaboration.

The approach of multiple emails ends up in agents having to rely on forwards, CC’s and BCC’s, or even multiple platforms to try and work together as a team. On the other side, confused customers often decide to fire off multiple emails to different email addresses, increasing the chances of teams working disjointedly or duplicating effort.


Email inboxes work in silos


Email is great for simple communication, but when people try to use it as a means of team collaboration – on things like group discussions or working together to update files – it’s chaotic.

Email inboxes are a trap for relevant information; agents spend much of their valuable time trying to retrieve key pieces of information from an inbox, going through countless email threads to find files, or emailing colleagues separately to ask for assistance. It can be truly painful.

To help mitigate the confusion that emails generate, teams often resort to meetings in the best intentions of getting things done. But how often do these meetings end up being pointless and unproductive?


Ibby to the rescue: a better way to collaborate.

We built Ibby to make communication easy not just with your customers, but also with your teammates. As an all-encompassing messaging solution for teams, Ibby addresses the common pain points of working with email with 3 practical features:


1- Conversations: Ibby’s multi-channel Inbox


Ibby’s Conversations work as a unified inbox collating messages from your visitors and customers, coming in from different channels: live chat, email, SMS and Facebook Messenger (we are looking to include more channels in the near future!)

The concept of a centralised command centre for communications is ideal for teamwork: teams can receive and respond collaboratively, to different channels, from one platform.  

  • All communications in one space. Email is not the only point of contact – there’s live chat, SMS, social media – and Ibby integrates all your business channels in one Conversations tab. This makes it easy for your team to manage communications and get back to customers no matter how they reach you.
  • Quicker response times. Ibby’s Conversations counts with a highly intuitive UI, helping your team to respond quicker and more effectively.
  • Notifications. Customisable notifications in Ibby mean that you and your team can get notified when incoming messages arrive from any channel, by email or inside the app, or with browser notifications – your choice!
  •  The power of context. Your Conversations smartly connect communication threads with your contacts – giving your team all the context necessary to act on cases with accuracy. Digging in your email for hours to find what you need to know will soon be a distant memory.


2- Private Chat: Collaborate behind the scenes, in real-time


As part of your Conversations, Ibby is equipped with a Private Chat mode for agents to collaborate in real-time and drive productivity, behind-the-scenes!

  • Let conversations flow to close more sales. Connect with other teams and colleagues while chatting with visitors to get work done and close deals quicker. No more team barriers.
  • Discuss things in real-time. Stop relying on email and discuss things with your team in real-time; the proper way to instant collaboration.


3- Live chat designed for teams


Need to collaborate on a conversation as a team? We’ve got that covered too.

  • Engage in live chat as a team. With Private Chat, teammates can mention each other to get them involved in conversations, so that you can engage with visitors and customers in live chat as a team. This means that, when the circumstances require team action, the conversation is not just one-to-one, but team-to-one!



Ready to spend less time on email and get more work done?


We bet you are. Most teams have experienced the pain of wasting too much time with email, but we at Ibby are working to change that.

We know how much businesses can benefit from intuitive messaging tools that make teamwork easier. And we know how much effective teamwork can result in happier customers! 

Try Ibby for free and start powering your team to boost productivity, sales and support.



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Top tips to optimise your messaging over the festive period

With December just around the corner, it’s the right time for businesses to kickstart the festive marketing efforts.

This time of the year always presents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to re-connect with customers, engage and grow their communities, and ultimately increase sales.

Whether your company is participating in festive events, running special promotions or sharing season greetings with customers – it all comes down to getting your messaging across at the right time, through the right channel.

 

The festive period in stages

 

First, consider the stages for the festive period in order to get the timing of your communications right. For the UK and much of the Western world, there are mainly 4 stages:

Late November: Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickstart much of the Christmas shopping, as thousands of buyers seek to take advantage of the best deals for the latest products.

1st to 24th December: Christmas is coming! And that means busy times for shops, buyers, and brands running Christmas campaigns. The most popular days for shopping are the Mondays of December, a.k.a. “Mega Mondays”, with sales spikes of up to 15%.

25th December: The big day, when all we do is open gifts from others, right? Wrong! According to stats, over half (52%) of shoppers in the UK buy items for themselves on December 25th, and most of them use a smartphone – making Christmas Day the busiest day of the year for mobile shopping.

26th December – Early January: A window for people to make the most of reductions and further deals, while many brands focus on sharing content related to new year resolutions and trends for the year ahead.

 

Making the most of your festive messaging

 

Now, here’s a few tips to optimise your messages across different communication channels.

 

  • SMS

According to research, text messages have a remarkable open rate of 99%, and 90% of messages are read within 3 minutes! With such high and speedy open rates, text messaging can be a super effective channel for sharing time-sensitive information and CTAs over the festive period.

Text messaging also helps to improve ROI. Response rates from SMS are a whooping 209% higher than phone calls, email or Facebook. As much as 29% of targeted customers will respond to text messages, and almost half of these responders end up making a purchase.

Albeit the great benefits, it’s important not to overuse this channel. Text messaging is best used sparingly – otherwise it can end up feeling spammy. Pick your dates carefully and segment your audience to make sure you’re reaching the relevant contacts!

Always aim to keep text messages short – under 160 characters. You can make use of SMS abbreviations (texspeak) to fit your content within this limit, if you’re struggling.

 

  • Email

Many brands use email to communicate about delivery dates, letting their customers know when the last orders can be placed to ensure delivery in time for the big day. With this in mind, think about any ways in which the busy festive period may affect your business; and communicate with your customers.

Email is also used for sending festive eCards, which present a much kinder solution to the environment than traditional cards sent by post. Going green is no longer just a trend; it’s becoming a top priority for businesses around the world. Firms choosing eCards over print to reduce their footprint are sure to please eco-conscious customers.

When creating your festive emails, make sure to use images and messages that truly represent your brand and values.

Plan your email campaigns in advance, taking into account that emails are generally opened within 24 to 48 hours after they’re sent.

 

  • Website

The impact your website has on your visitors can be huge, especially if you are an e-commerce brand.

Online shopping is more popular than ever. In 2016, out of all online sales, almost 20% was carried out between November 13th and December 24th, so consider this window of opportunity to make your website stand out.

If you have live chat on your website, how about adjusting your greeting, or decorating your widget with a festive-themed emoji?

  • Social media

This time of the year, social networks get invaded with festive content, and there’s no good reason for your brand to fall behind!

Social media remains the top place to go for engaging with your audience. Apart from sharing traditional season greetings, don’t forget to use social channels to echo on any special promotions.

As Christmas is a time for giving, the time is also ideal for businesses to participate in fundraising events and amplify reach with social channels. If you have a large base of followers on Facebook, you can make the most of charitable giving tools, such as donation buttons, to support your business’ cause and engage your audience.

Social media competitions are also a great initiative to give back to your community. If you are organising any competition, try not to set the closing date and announcements too close to the big day, as this may affect participation and engagement.

 

Final thoughts

 

In general, think about the holiday period as an opportunity to deliver a great festive multi-channel experience for your customers, while showing that you care about giving and engaging with your community.

Plan your campaigns in advance to get ahead of the competition. Use automation to help you ensure your communications are sent at the right time and triggered by relevant actions.

Integrate your channels to make the most of your campaigns. For example, if you’re having a flash sale on your website, let your subscribers know in advance with an email, share announcements on your website and social channels, and remind them with a text message right when the sale starts.

And above all, keep it positive and enjoy the festive season!

Responding to leads: Are you moving fast enough?

A new lead comes in – the clock’s ticking. How much time do you have to respond before your lead falls off the radar?

Everyone seems to know that, when there’s an opportunity to close a sale, time is of the essence. Yet, research statistics out of Harvard Business Review show that most companies are slow to respond to leads, meaning they aren’t handling online queries effectively.

Looking at over two thousand U.S. companies to gauge how long they took to respond to a web-generated test lead, the results found that 24% took more than 24 hours — and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

What’s even more interesting, is the stat that reflects just how important timely responses can be. The research suggests that companies that respond to leads within an hour, are 7 times more likely to convert leads to sales.

Companies that try to contact leads within 60 minutes of receiving a query “are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers as firms that try to contact prospects even an hour later” – the report reads. However, only 37% of companies manage to follow up with leads within an hour.

 

Every minute counts

 

The Harvard Business Review demonstrates the importance of responding within an hour, but what happens when looking more closely; at the minutes that follow the submission of a lead?

The Lead Response Management Study shows just how much every minute can cost you when your leads are awaiting response:

 

  • “The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.”
  • “The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.”

 

Why is response time so important?

 

The reason why the time you take to respond to leads matters so much is not only to do with top-of-mind-awareness (a vendor is still fresh on the consumer’s mind when the contact occurs), but also because of the so-called “wow effect”.

Would it freak people out if you got back to them seconds after receiving a lead? Perhaps there was a time when this could have been a bit of a concern – but with all the recent advances in AI and technology, the truth is that consumers nowadays want and expect an instant response.

Responding fast to a potential customer is a great way to make a good first impression. It shows that you’re interested, and it tells them a bit about how quick your service can be – helping to build trust right from the start.

 

Beating your competitors to the punch

 

As much as 50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. So, how can you make sure you are handling leads effectively and be the first to respond?

 

1. Equip your team with the latest live chat technology 

More than ever, consumers are demanding immediate attention, which is why businesses are increasingly turning to live chat software that can facilitate an instant response.

Ibby’s modern live chat tool can allow your sales team to be ready to strike a conversation whenever someone is interested in your product or service; and engage in conversation to answer questions in real-time.

With no need for submitting forms online, or consumers having to wait for your emails; live chat can simplify the funnel to a single conversation.

Aim to get back within 5 minutes for optimising your chances of success.

 

2. Use automations for tailored responses

Automated responses can provide good support for when you can’t provide an immediate personal response – providing your team is able to pick up and follow up, as appropriate.

In the usage of automated responses, it’s important to avoid auto-responders that come across as a canned response. Make an effort to personalise your messages. A good automation tool allows you to tailor messages to customers’ behaviours and actions, ensuring content is not only timely, but relevant and to the point.

With Ibby, you can also take it further and automate tasks for your team. Tasking users in connection to personalised auto-messages can help your team to stay on top of every action required to close more sales and move prospects through the funnel.

 

3. Follow up effectively

Apart from commonly slow response standards, statistics also show that companies aren’t persistent enough at following up on leads. On average, companies try to contact a lead only 1.3 times before quitting.

Think about how many choices consumers have out there. Your potential customers can be hesitant and require a level of attention that can only be achieved through appropriate following up. This is why persistency can be so important.

Workflow automations can be of massive help for following up, so that agents don’t have to manually chase leads and perform repetitive tasks. Workflows help companies to keep potential customers advancing through their decision cycle by communicating consistently with them.

By not following up effectively, you’re letting your leads fall off the radar and giving your competitors space for stepping in.

 

Conclusion

 

Delaying your response to inbound leads can easily result in money lost. Responses within an hour increase the chances of conversion by as much as 7 times, and your best odds of making a successful contact with a lead are within 5 minutes.

Responding to leads quickly is largely down to having the right tools to do so. Speed is critical, but so is relevancy. Make sure you equip your team with tools that allow them to respond fast and to send the right message at the right time. And remember – every minute counts!

 

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Get your hands on the latest messaging tools to be the first to respond and convert more customers. Sign up with Ibby today, you can get started for free!

 

Conversational Commerce: It’s time to chat

Conversational commerce presents a massive opportunity for the future of marketing and sales. Learn all about it and how easy it can be to get started.

The ways consumers shop online and interact with businesses are changing. With the use of smartphones transforming our world, online users want instant answers, and companies need to streamline their operations to tackle the challenge. It stands to reason why there’s been so much talk around conversational commerce.

 

What is conversational commerce?

 

In 2016, Chris Messina described it in an article as follows:

“Conversational commerce (as I see it) largely pertains to utilising chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.

In principle, Conversational Commerce consists in the notion of facilitating sales with conversations. The concept has existed for as long as humans buy and sell, because trading has forever involved discussion; whether it’s in meetings with salesmen to discuss products, phoning companies to check stock or asking questions in person to assistants in shops.

For the world of ecommerce, communication has been a little different. Emails dominating the digital dialogue for years has meant that the conversation hasn’t exactly been real-time, but this is now quickly shifting.

With the rise of AI, voice assistants and instant messaging tools; real-time conversation has progressively become a core part of the online shopping experience – and live chat is assuming the protagonist role.

Live chat is the epitome of conversational commerce online. Asking questions is innately human; hence, when given the chance, online consumers jump at the opportunity to engage in chat and ask for help before completing a purchase.

The benefit for businesses is clear; engaging with visitors online is equivalent to assisting potential customers coming into a shop for help – a superb resource for closing a sale.

Live chat has the ability to shorten the sales funnel to a single conversation. Without the need for emails going back and forth, time-consuming Internet search, form submissions or other broken means of communication – a visitor who engages in conversation via live chat can immediately be assisted, qualified as a lead and turned into a customer.

When it comes to closing sales, time is of the essence – and with the power of real-time conversations, you can close deals in minutes. That’s the great opportunity. Live chat is allowing businesses to easily capitalise on instant messaging and increase sales, whilst enhancing support online and boosting customer engagement.

Asking questions is innately human; hence, when given the chance, online consumers jump at the opportunity to engage in chat and ask for help. #BusinessMessaging Click To Tweet

Getting on top of the game

 

Conversational commerce is here for the long haul, re-shaping customer interaction for the future. If you’re not giving your visitors and customers the chance to chat with you online, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

Getting started with live chat is easy and it doesn’t have to cost you much. In fact, with Ibby, you can get started for free!

 

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