As we move towards 2030, the Finance DNA report reveals a growing need for inclusive and humanised experiences from banks. But there is a considerable challenge here, when basing these experiences on AI-based tech that combines friction-free convenience with the warmth and understanding necessary to provide exceptional customer service.
The relationship between banks and their customers is a hot topic of conversation, mainly due to the number of high street branch closures we're seeing across the UK. It's an emotive subject but one that risks masking the true nature of change in the sector.
Less widely appreciated is the significant transformation of the category, which is harnessing a whole swathe of technologies to drive innovation. Mobile services, artificial intelligence and chatbots, open banking, and cryptocurrency are just a few of the digital trends reshaping the market.
Within this context, the Finance DNA report, created in partnership with Foresight Factory, identifies ten key trends that will influence the future of banking and finance.
Its publication reflects the difficult economic backdrop dominated by the cost-of-living crisis and downward pressures on consumer ability to spend. Some 49% of people feel personally at risk from financial hardship over the next five years, a rise of 9% on 2021, according to the report.
What soon becomes clear from the Finance DNA report is that improved customer experience, especially where it can be personalised, is the key to providing a step change in service standards. A shift forward that deploys technology to ensure that customers are not isolated but feel more valued is required.
A new era for customer experience
A picture emerges in the report of a sector that is striving to cater more actively to a market of ever-more diverse customers, communities and needs.
This is needed in light of the report's finding that by 2022, 76% of British consumers were using online banking services at least weekly, and 84% of 25-34s are currently using the internet for banking purposes on a weekly basis.
Successful banks will supplement this shift to digital platforms by also addressing increased demand for inclusion through more personalised physical experiences. For instance, we'll see more banks exploring partnerships with brands in other sectors, such as retail, to offer complementary, in-person services. Utilising the same shared spaces for multiple uses and activities.
While there's rising demand for easy-to-use, frictionless, interactive services, customers will also want their banks to connect them with other people. Almost three in four (72%) of UK consumers still say they prefer to speak to a human being when making a complaint about a product or service, says the Finance DNA research.
As a consequence, there will be an expectation that financial brands provide convenient digital tools to engage with human customer service agents for more emotionally responsive and empathetic support. Looking further ahead, as we approach 2030, banks will need to embed real and simulated forms of human engagement via more instant digital channels.
Humanised chat driven by AI
This trend is becoming apparent in that 37% of UK consumers now use chat messenger services to interact with brands, rising to 61% of Millennials. Banks that optimise and humanise these offers most successfully are set to thrive.
As the decade goes on, banks will make increasing use of technologies such as biometric and emotional tracking that will quickly improve the ability of automated services to mimic human interactions. We can expect this to become the norm across the sector.
This brings us to the rising role for AI in building a future of personalised customer experiences. Google Cloud, AI and machine learning will prove vital in providing digital assistants that react and respond to customer needs in ways that seem empathetic and emotionally responsive to the context and challenges faced by the customer.
For example, insurance and personal finance products are utilising AI through the combined use of Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to automate the review of information related to an insurance claim or policy renewal.
AI is also capable of making efficient use of geo data. For example, in New Zealand, insurance start-up, Bounce, has partnered with Lloyd’s to offer affordable earthquake insurance and fast claims payments. Bounce uses GeoNet data to identify which consumers have experienced a strong earthquake. Payments are determined by the strength of the quake, with stronger earthquakes generating higher pay-outs.
In an era of economic uncertainty, customers will continue to be worried about changing circumstances. This means that they'll demand financial services that can quickly and efficiently respond to their unique set of needs, providing support right when, and where, they need it.
It's clear that banks must not lose sight of the human, and need to create both brands and experiences that include, rather than exclude, specific people and communities. This won't be an easy balance to strike but one that's within the grasp of finance companies that have a clear understanding of both customer and organisational needs.
Take a look at our Finance DNA report for more.