Human customer service versus artificial intelligence

Bankers believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is the way of the future, and have begun to use it to improve their customer service.  But this new journey has its own set of opportunities and challenges.  In a world of always-connected, powerful, multifunctional personal technologies customers expect more than ever from their service providers. Where consumers used to reach for the phone or send an email when they needed help from their financial institution, now it’s quicker to reach use social media or chatbot from a handheld device.

Despite the promise of a more responsive customer experience, though, many consumers are wary of a purely digital interaction.  When people want help, they look for a human experience that they can trust.  Human contact still matters.

AI forecast

AI is set to become the main way banks interact with customers over the next three years, according to the Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017 report. Feedback from 600 bankers and financial experts across 30 countries revealed that the majority believed AI will change the way they gather information and keep in touch with their customers.

Customers had a different perspective from the bankers, though.  The fifth annual International Survey of Mobile Banking found customers less bullish on the benefits of AI and were reluctant to take robo advice. The ING Groep survey of 15,000 people across 15 countries revealed that 91 percent of bank customers would not allow a machine or computer to make decisions on their behalf. A quarter of them said they would listen to robo advice as long as they themselves had final approval.

This is in line with Accenture’s findings. Co-author of the report and head of Accenture’s banking practice, Alan McIntyre said that while people think technology will make banking less personal, the opposite is likely to be true. Sixty percent of bankers say the main reason for using AI is for data analysis and insights that  will give customers the impression that their banks know them better. AI gives banks access to better customer information to deliver better advice and tailor their response to meet customer needs in real-time.

Robots not ranked high

The ING survey indicates robots were the least likely source of advice people would seek out for investment decisions. They would rather listen to investment advisers, the internet, and friends and family than a robot. Consumers strongly feel that they still need  human interaction when dealing with investments.

Automation the way of the future

Meanwhile, some financial organisations are using algorithms to track customers’ online behavioural patterns so they can tailor services to their needs. This information gives financial advisers access to multiple-choice solutions based on a client’s lifestyle, interests and market changes when they make contact.

Using algorithms gives financial advisers immediate insight into each customer they talk to. This improves customer service and the ability to make targeted investment suggestions. Whether they are considering a mortgage, a personal or business loan, or want to invest in shares to build a wealth portfolio.

The typical push and pull for how quickly a new technology is embraced by consumers depends on how much better it solves problems versus how much new friction it creates.  AI has a tremendous ability to solve problems for consumers better, faster and easier, but the lack of human interaction and associated trust will continue to be a real barrier for adoption for years to come.

IA360 is working with its clients to develop AI services designed to enhance the quality of customer interactions in a way that combines the business benefits of AI with trusted, familiar human support.  We call this approach ‘digital with a light human touch’.

IA360’s diverse background in finance, technology and marketing positions them as a global leader in Customer Experience. The only question that remains is: What are you going to do to meet customer demands? Contact us today at to discuss how IA360 can help you improve your customer’s experience and improve your market share.