How live chat and automation can boost the financial services sector

Market leaders are now discovering the hidden profit in productivity 

Banking and financial service establishments in the UK which have stood the test of time, have done so by consistently making shrewd financial decisions, adhering tightly to their own iron-clad processes for lending and investment, and adopting a risk averse approach.  Until very recently, the banking industry has seldom lifted its head to consider the additional margin that could be unlocked by simply automating some of their outdated processes. 

The architecture of most city centres show a nostalgic glimpse of the past, where grandiose buildings of former banks were peppered throughout. The structures of these great buildings still exist today, but the organisations which inhabited them have long since moved to a smaller premises, or off the high street altogether. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most obvious is that the way people interact with their bank or financial service provider has changed over time. Less human interaction is needed, and heavy handed manual paperwork based processes are being phased out where possible.

However, these journeys are not yet fully automated, as anyone who’s had to interact with a branch office or financial services call centre will attest to. While there may not yet be an appetite across the board for the removal of the human touch and implementation of end to end automation entirely, it’s clear that many financial service providers in the UK are still missing out on key opportunities for efficiency gains via automation and wider fintech support.

Given that application processes, customer service queries on financial products, and renewals within any given financial business will be fairly consistent, the likes of an online chatbot service could massively boost the utilization of staff, and the turnaround time of processes.

For instance, if a customer is applying for a mortgage, loan, credit card, or any other financial product; they’ll be faced with a standardised set of questions. If the prospective customer is confused at any point in the process, there’ll be a reasonably limited number of things they could question. Rather than using a staff member to answer these questions in a repetitive manner, a chatbot removes the need for a staff member to be involved, and ushers the potential customer down the sales funnel more swiftly.

How effective are chatbots?

All very good in theory, but let’s talk about whether chatbots are effective in real terms. Research would suggest that the current implementation of them is viewed positively, but still has some way to go. The findings of the 2018 Chatbots.org independent survey showed that UK consumers are split, with 46% finding them ‘somewhat effective’, while 49% see them as either ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’.

There seems to be a clear divide between the age of respondents: 22% of Generation Z and 15% of millennials rate them as ‘very effective; compared to 12% of boomers, and 12% of the silent generation. The insinuation there is that chatbots are more approved of among the tech savvy consumer groups.

Although the trend is a positive one for the acceptance of chatbots, the fact that it stops short of overwhelming support indicates that an element of human touch is generally supported. This type of scenario is exactly where an online live chat functionality would bridge the gap in customer approval, while still gaining margin on operational efficiency.

Where a sales journey or operational process is non-standardised or niche, the types of queries a user may come up with may require a more human level of interaction, reassurance, or even negotiation. An example of where this may be of use to a financial services establishment would be when presenting a range of purchase or renewal options to a consumer.

Beyond bots, live chat functionality itself has remained popular in recent years, as a study by Forbes showed that 92% of users feel satisfied using a live chat feature when dealing with a business, and over half of those surveyed believe having a person available to answer questions during a purchasing decision is one of the most important features a brand can offer.

More recently, ecommerce platforms have even gone as far as introducing co-browsing software, so as to streamline any potential drop off in the sales by keeping visitors (or prospective customers) on the purchase offer page, and assisting them by literally guiding them through the journey step by step.

Ultimately, any financial service business’ goal is to guide a prospective or renewing customer through a complex sales process as swiftly as possible, with as little company resource as possible.

Each business is different, but there are enough commonalities between financial service establishments to allow for things like live chat, chatbot, and co-browsing to now be regarded as a real booster for productivity, and ultimately, bottom line profit. Those with decision making power in the digital space of financial services need to weigh up the opportunity that is hiding in plain sight. If manual forms are still being filled out, or headcount for mundane tasks is creeping up, then it’s not unreasonable to ask why, and turn to fintech advancements to overcome the challenge.

Customers looking for instant help could be receiving it, by way of a chatbot or live chat, and high drop off on application forms could be combatted by simply introducing a co-browsing agent to overcome the blockers in the journey. These are the tools by which forward-thinking firms in financial services will improve business productivity, and ultimately, year-end profits.


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