If you’re a technology professional with a financial institution (FI), especially in innovation, digital channels or UX, you’ve likely heard about the benefits of an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot or Virtual Financial Assistant (VFA). Some of you might even be skeptical of these benefits if your FI doesn’t have many millions to invest in the solution or if you’re not  already far down the AI path like one of the top ten U.S. banks. Many of the benefits you’ve been presented likely focus on enhanced experience that will be a “game changer” including:

  • Allowing customers and members to engage on the channels and in the dialogue they prefer. 
  • Increasing customer/member engagement leading to elevated loyalty.  
  • Simplifying the digital banking experience.

There are several more benefits around user experience and all of them are incredibly valuable because they simplify the financial journey, leading to increased customer loyalty and retention. These benefits certainly shouldn’t be downplayed or minimized, but they are longer-term metrics that can be initially difficult to measure. When considering any technology solution, we all know what it comes down to – how does it impact the bottom line in the near-term?

One of  the best parts about implementing a VFA (at least one like ours) is that it not only provides a plethora of customer experience benefits that ultimately provide value to a FI, but it can also quickly generate direct, measurable return on investment (ROI). 

So, what are the use cases that drive the highest ROI when implementing a VFA?  Let’s take a look at three that are sure to move the needle:

Enhanced Self-Service Capabilities

The ability of a VFA to resolve non-complex requests creates immediate savings by reducing volume to live agent support centers thus reducing staffing needs.  Many FIs still see basic requests like “what is the routing number” or “what is my checking account balance” on their list of most frequent support center requests. These types of non-complex requests are not only simple for an integrated VFA to deflect from the call center, but in doing so, free up agents to exclusively handle more complex requests. As the VFA operates 24/7, these benefits are especially true in regards to the cost of after-hours support when some FIs either pay higher fees for after-hours live agents or offer no support at all.

As an example, one of our FI customers who uses a live agents + VFA approach during business hours and a VFA-only approach after hours, was able to eliminate after-hours call center expenses while still providing high quality service. This FI has roughly 50,000 customers and saw 24% adoption of the VFA in just the first six months, with more than 7,400 call center deflections in the first 90 days and a live chat deflection rate (resolving the issue without passing the chat to a human agent) of 87%. User chat sessions that the VFA ultimately handed-off to a live agent also experienced quicker resolution times thanks to our VFA authenticating the user and routing chat requests correctly and quickly. Ultimately, this FI is enjoying more than $166,000 annualized cost savings in the first year, and that number continues to grow.

These impressive metrics and benefits were made possible by our always-learning VFA that supports more than 250 use cases

Contextual Product Offerings

A VFA has the ability to provide product offers with context – meaning an offer related to the product the user is currently engaged with or as a solution to the current problem they are experiencing (example: offering and executing a credit limit increase when the customer’s limit is low, rather than just a warning). A VFA can not only offer the FI’s product(s), but also easily walk users through a comparison of the products without a third party service. These third party websites and services, while convenient for the user, are where products from other FIs might be marketed and distract your user or pull them away. Personalization of the experience is what customers expect and we have seen success when the VFA offers products in the moment they are needed with user’s details already pre-filled.

This type of personalization is straight-forward, when for example, the VFA offers a credit card comparison in the moment a user is searching for a credit card. What is less straightforward is starting the conversation with users around product utilization and financial wellness earlier in the process. According to PwC’s “2020 Employee Financial Wellness Survey,” more than two-thirds of employees (full-time employed U.S. adults) seek financial guidance at key decision points or when they’re already in crisis. This creates a huge gap/opportunity to proactively provide contextual insights and guidance that are personalized and deliver real value – on a regular basis. While the next generation of mobile banking apps move toward insights and financial wellness, harnessing the power of virtual assistants and natural conversation to deliver them (and the ability for the user to interact with and ask questions on the insight) will likely determine the winners and losers. 

We offer the option of advanced financial insights software (in conjunction with Envestnet I Yodlee, our parent company) in a package with our VFA to drive financial wellness and compete with the top U.S. banks currently  investing heavily in that area. Through this package, not only are the pre-integrated insights delivered via conversational flows built by our design experts, but in a channel that members can engage with those insights and take action on them, ensuring long-term financial wellness.

Streamlined & Effective Onboarding Capabilities

Acquiring new customers is a primary goal of many financial institutions. Digital customers are especially valuable as their elevated  self-service behaviors represent a low cost-to-service for the FI. Many FIs outsource their digital onboarding to experienced fintech providers to ensure compliance with the high standards of identity and regulatory requirements in banking. While these onboarding providers may be excellent at ensuring compliance and document collection, the process of digital onboarding at an FI can still suffer from two major impediments – too much friction and mediocre user experience. As a result many FIs experience drop-offs (customer abandoning process) at different steps in the process. 

Utilizing the APIs from the onboarding provider, the FI can utilize a VFA to walk a user through the entire onboarding process with natural conversational flows, reducing friction to the user and improving the experience. The VFA can input information by text, voice or tap (dynamic buttons), again reducing friction. In addition to reduced friction and better experience, the VFA reduces drop-offs by offering real-time answers to any user questions about the process. Review of conversational data can also lead to discovery of reason for drop-off at certain steps, allowing the FI to adjust the traditional online flow steps to reduce drop-off. Having a next generation VFA (like ours) that can hold context and leave the onboarding flow to answer questions while holding place in the flow, can be a powerful (and profitable) resource.

If you’re interested in learning more about the return on investment that the use cases supported by a Virtual Financial Assistant can generate, request a no-obligation demo/meeting here or contact us at sales@abe.ai