The Do’s and Don’ts of Chatbots

By Dennis Egen

Chatbots aren’t exactly the latest technological innovation in banking—or any industry for that matter. But that doesn’t mean this artificial intelligence (AI) tool is being optimized and used effectively by banking institutions.

If improving fintech capabilities is on your Q4 or 2018 to do list, here are a few things to consider—how chatbots can have a positive impact on your business and things to look out for so you don’t stumble along the way. Let’s start with the why. Some of the possible benefits of chatbots include the ability to:

  • Remove friction between customers and the back office. Chatbots are often the first touch point a customer with an issue has with an organization. So, before that customer gets too frustrated, use this automated technology to solve problems faster. Chatbots can help catch issues early.
  • Engage prospects and strike while the iron is hot. Customers pose questions via chatbots that indicate their interests and needs. In real time, you can capitalize on this information and bring prospects through the sales funnel quickly and efficiently.
  • Automate the intake process. Most customers are doing product research outside of business hours, when bank employees are at home. Use chatbots to get initial, qualifying questions answered. Learn about the customers and find out what types of products are of interest.

While some believe consumers are not ready to talk hard-earned cash with AI, I would suggest you don’t have to worry about the acceptance curve. Consumers are used to this type of dialogue in other industries where e-commerce has been embraced. High-touch, customer service-oriented businesses are finding that chatbots work.

Beyond the why’s, bankers are also concerned about what and how.

“What should I look out for?”

  1. One of the biggest mistakes that a bank can make in implementing chatbot functionality is not planning on how the chatbot will be supported by staff. The operational friction between the bank’s products, services, and people can quickly become apparent if appropriate planning isn’t done.
  2. If you’ve decided that your user interface needs chatbot functionality, you should consult with your IT staff early. Get their input on your chat needs or plans and determine your staff’s role in the new chatbot/customer interaction. Understanding this will help you select the most appropriate software for your needs.
  3. Another common mistake in deploying a chatbot strategy is attempting to roll it out too rapidly. Start small. Beta test your program. Get feedback from bank employees and customers so you can learn from early experiences.

“How do I choose a chatbot partner?”

There are many chatbots to choose from, and reviewing vendors’ case studies of their customers’ experiences—especially those of other financial institutions—is a good way to determine whether their program will meet your needs.

Lastly, remember, chatbots are not meant to replace the need for strong men and women at your bank. This is not either/or. It is truly a both/and situation, as chatbots are performing a function that complements the human interaction your team has with customers and prospects, day in and day out.

This is especially true during times of day when employees are home with their families—like after dinner—like when a lot of financial product research occurs.

Dennis Egen is president of Engine Room Technology, a security, risk management, development, and e-commerce consulting firm. Email: [email protected]. Twitter.