The 3 Digital Banking Chat solutions that will remain essential post-pandemic
Chatbots and live chat are essential to digital servicing
In-app chat support has become a hygiene feature in the UK. It is now an essential feature to include in any banking app. In this blog we’ll explore the three main ways chat is being implemented by brands and how these tools will continue to evolve.
Digital help and support tools are now essential services to provide to all banking customers. The ongoing pandemic has highlighted how important it is for customers to be able to get timely, accurate support via digital channels. With the closure of branches for much of the past year, and the increased demand and wait times across call centres, chat has become the obvious support solution. As such, it has experienced significant attention and growth recently.
Customers, on the whole, are very familiar with communicating via chat, making its introduction into banking apps a natural progression. Additionally, these features help divert customers away from more labour-intensive channels such as branch or call centres. Indeed, the ability to close the app and return to a conversion later, can remove a key pain point for customers who no longer need to be placed on hold on a phone call.
With the introduction of TSB and First Direct’s chatbots, chat as a support channel is now a hygiene feature in the UK. There are several ways in which chat is implemented into apps; from basic bots that filter FAQs, to tools that can carry out transactional activities. The three main ways chat has been implemented across brands is through basic FAQ chatbots, more sophisticated chatbots, and finally, live chat. These tools are not mutually exclusive and are often used in tandem to help customers find answers to issues as succinctly as possible. Indeed, we are increasingly seeing chatbot and live chat features being integrated together.
The basic chatbot
TSB’s introduction of a chatbot this quarter is a key indicator that even smaller brands are seeing the importance of this channel in providing access to help and support. Its chatbot mainly filters through FAQs to help customers access relevant articles. This provides the customer with a familiar interface, but also allows them to ask their question in their own words, helping them find the information they need more easily as FAQs may not be worded in a way that is familiar or relevant to their situation.
There is a significant difference between basic FAQ chatbots, and more advanced, AI-powered chatbots, such as NatWest’s ‘Cora’. These bots, while still fairly limited in their capabilities, can provide more detailed responses to particular queries and will often direct customers to relevant pages in the app directly from the chat interface. Bank of America’s ‘Erica’, is currently one of the global leaders, it acts as a central point of contact within the app. Customers can not only receive answers to common queries, but they are also able to make payments, view spending trends, and apply for products, directly from the chat interface.
Finally, live chat integrates the familiar chat-based interface with the personalised interaction of a customer agent. Live chat helps customers to get specific and relevant advice based on their personal circumstances. In addition, it can help users feel more confident in the answers that they receive.
Live chat is likely going to overtake phone centres as the first point of contact with live agents as the experience can be a lot less frustrating for customers. In many cases, customers can close the app and re-open it when they receive a response, meaning they do not need to wait on hold. Of course, there will still be many who are less tech-savvy, and not comfortable with chat interfaces, that may still prefer branch and phone channels. However, this will likely decline significantly as these tools are integrated across banking and non-FS apps.
Live chat is often integrated within the chatbot experience. Some banks, such as Revolut, do not clearly advertise the existence of live chat in the app, instead only referring the customer to an agent if they do not get an adequate response from the chatbot, or if the user specifically requests to speak to a human.
These three approaches are of course not mutually exclusive; indeed, we are increasingly seeing a merge between all these approaches. Banks will often offer a combination of basic chatbots, with some more sophisticated AI, and a push to live chat if needed. Over the past year, as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced branches to close, many customers who were nervous about using digital channels have been forced online. This has not only highlighted the importance of in-app and online digital banking tools, but also how imperative it is to have quality, easy to access help and support services digitally. These tools need to appeal to, and serve all the bank’s customers, not just those that are used to using chat interfaces on a daily basis. These three approaches, when combined, can help ensure that all customer demographics are adequately comfortable using chat as a primary support tool.
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