The Nuances of Marketing Voice Banking

By Colin Murphy

Voice banking has given financial services executives something to talk about as they evaluate how this new channel fits into their overall service mix.

Voice technology offers the promise of exceptionally convenient interactions that fit seamlessly into people’s daily lives. It also has the potential to enhance customer service in ways current technologies cannot. However, as with any new channel, there are additional considerations including security and customer education.

Here are a few key things for financial institution marketers to consider when introducing voice banking to customers.

Getting to know you

Laying the groundwork begins with understanding customer wants and needs. Take advantage of focus groups to learn how customers are already interacting with voice technology, and what financial interactions they might want to conduct.

Voice interactions can take place via digital assistants such as Alexa or Siri, chatbots, or via basic dictation through a device. All of these have the potential to create value and enhance customer convenience, but all may not make sense for your institution and customer base.

Watching customers interact with solution prototypes will provide a sense of how they conduct financial interactions in a conversational way, and what they are willing to say versus type or tap.

These early findings during product development are foundational to designing relevant customer journeys—and can also help inform the promotion of compelling capabilities when they are ready to launch.

Designed with voice in mind

While it is important to align to what customers want, it’s also important to tailor capabilities to the channel. Voice banking lends itself particularly well to quick and easy interactions such as checking an account balance.

However, voice banking is also less private than other types of interactions. This can create security concerns that need to be addressed lest they stymie adoption.

Start by understanding when and where a voice interaction takes place, and what level of security is being provided. Skills developed for voice assistants can focus on inquiry-based transactions, such as account balances or bill due dates, which add value and help drive adoption and engagement while avoiding the exchange of more sensitive information such as account numbers or passwords.

Creating complementary experiences with the appropriate levels of security is key to success. When interactions become more complex or there is a need for additional privacy or security, the interaction can transition smoothly to another channel if information is shared between both.

Focus on the benefits

People want speed, ease and convenience. While voice banking cannot yet replace other channels completely, it can make certain interactions much quicker, easier and convenient.

According to Fiserv’s Expectations & Experiences consumer trends survey, 51 percent of American consumers see a benefit in voice banking, although only 34 percent knew it was possible to use voice activation to perform banking functions. This points to a significant opportunity for growing consumer awareness and understanding.

Rather than marketing only the general availability of voice banking, illustrate specific journeys in which the use of voice banking can positively impact a customer.

Consider a quick balance check or a payment due date inquiry, or a search for a specific transaction. Instead of logging on, accessing the search tool, typing in a term and filtering through a list, it is much more convenient to ask, “When was the last time I spent money at Target?”

It is this type of clear value that will drive adoption of the service.

Educate and reassure customers

As with any newer technology, education plays an essential role in ensuring customers make the most of new capabilities while remaining secure. While most people will understand that they should not use voice banking to open a new account from the middle of the local coffee shop, it is important to spell out appropriate use situations to avoid any confusion.

Financial institutions are a trusted source to help people sort the facts from the noise. Tips on how to use voice banking safely and make sure private information remains confidential are immensely helpful for new voice banking users. It is important that financial institutions educate customers on best practices, and technology providers can often serve as a resource in this fast-evolving area.

Even though voice banking isn’t at the point of mass adoption yet, forward-thinking financial institutions are blazing new trails in marketing the benefits of this unique service to stand out in a competitive marketplace.

As voice interactions become more pervasive in our everyday lives, and with wider adoption of voice banking solutions on the horizon, financial institutions have an opportunity to differentiate with a capability that delivers the speed, ease and convenience that customers crave. In doing so, these organizations will help drive the next level of the technology and position themselves as digital banking leaders.

Colin Murphy is vice president of strategic marketing and digital consumer engagement at Fiserv, a financial services technology firm based in Brookfield, Wis.