Financial Services: Bolstering Customer Service Using Virtual Agents

In nearly every way, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event and the challenges that it poses to businesses are both widespread and complex. In addition to the unique new questions and concerns that have been raised, the attempt to maintain operations in the face of illness and social distancing have created unique obstacles. With trade desks unoccupied,  bricks-and-mortar branches closed, and many personnel in work-from-home mode, financial institutions are reporting +30 minute online and telephone wait times for both internal support and customer service.

Financial Services CCAI Blog

One way that financial services companies are meeting the challenges posed by the current pandemic is through an increased utilization of automated technology such as Google Contact Center AI (CCAI). New development tools have made CCAI both easier to implement and more robust in terms of the number of features offered. In addition to increasing capacity at a time when resources are stretched thin, CCAI also engages in a way that provides enhanced customer care and delivers continuous improvement in user experience as AI engages to learn more and more about desired interactions and outcomes. In fact, increased use of technology such as CCAI is likely to provide long-term dividends as practices adopted during the crisis are carried over with positive impact once the pandemic has subsided.

Top features of Contact Center AI

Automated customer service is certainly not new, but the ease of use for developers as well as the richness of the customer experience have improved dramatically from the earliest iterations of such systems. In addition to reducing the number of times a customer has to reenter redundant information, the AI component of the offering delivers a system that is able to independently fulfill routine requests, make seamless handoffs to human agents, provide support for customer interactions, and constantly evolve and improve through the application of AI and real-time analytics. Importantly, these new systems are extremely flexible and can be improved and adapted quickly. 

With the use of CCAI:

  • customers direct the flow of interaction in the conversation as CCAI utilizes a host of pre-set questions and feedback trees provided by the development team to quickly identify customer needs and wants. The tools within CCAI allow for the creation of a set of expected questions and responses and the AI functionality makes inferences to spot similar queries and deliver appropriate replies.
  • the system is able to free up resources because it can handle basic fulfillment needs without the need for further human intervention. This also enhances the customer experience because their needs are met both quickly and efficiently.  
  • the CCAI virtual agent automatically and seamlessly initiates a handoff to a human agent when appropriate. Importantly, the decision to transfer can be initiated based on both pre-determined scripts that reserve more complex tasks for human input as well as in response to a lack of clarity or even frustration that is emanating from the customer.
  • the role of the virtual agent continues once the handoff is completed as it shifts to providing useful background information as well as step-by-step instructions to the human agent. The addition of this support provides for better customer experience as well as better use of internal resources as interactions are settled faster and with greater satisfaction.
  • the power of virtual agents has grown rapidly with the addition of tools such as document understanding apps and Google Cloud Search (GCS). GCS is a machine learning powered search that increases the speed, intuitive output, and usability within a virtual agent. Further, GCS can be embedded in processes and third-party apps focused on CRM or call flow.
  • in addition to improving the customer experience in the here and now, CCAI also allows for continuous improvement by virtue of access to real-time metrics such as key call drivers and customer sentiment. 

Digital customer service as a driver for transformation

Even prior to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial services institutions were faced with difficult conditions as disruptive fintech companies micro-targeted specific, and often highly profitable, sectors of the business. Bricks-and-mortar models were struggling and now they have been sidelined as we deal with COVID-19. The old phrase asserts that “necessity is the mother of invention” and the current conditions in financial services are supporting the rapid adoption of innovative solutions like Contact Center AI. 

Need to determine the feasibility and cost benefits of utilizing Contact Center AI? Contact us to discuss how your company would benefit and to get started with Contact Center AI.

About the Author

Andrew Dunmore
Andrew Dunmore
With over 15 years of solution delivery experience, Andrew Dunmore leads the financial services consulting practice at Maven Wave. Mr. Dunmore is one of Maven Wave’s thought leaders in capital markets innovation and delivery excellence. Prior to Maven Wave, Mr. Dunmore served as a Vice President at Bank of America in their global private equity investment office and an Assistant Vice President at LaSalle Bank in their credit derivatives servicing division.
May 5th, 2020
FINANCIAL SERVICES

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2020-07-21T08:27:54-05:00