Think chatbots, intelligent virtual assistants, and digital employees. These and related technologies provide another way for people to communicate with banks (sometimes without even realizing that they're not talking to a real person) – thanks to the power of conversational artificial intelligence (CAI).
CAI makes it possible for banks to respond to customers' questions more quickly, cost-effectively, and consistently than they could with a traditional workforce. Juniper research predicts that, by 2022, chatbots will reduce call duration by four minutes and interaction costs by $0.70 per call.
Banks' interest in CAI has surged recently due to customers' concerns about in-person banking, which has led to intense pressure on banks' call-center personnel. For example, since the pandemic hit, Citizens Bank has launched its first chatbot, and Connexus Credit Union began rolling out Alexa voice-banking capability. Meanwhile, Bank of America added one million Erica users per month during the first three months of the pandemic.
Many banks embark on the CAI journey by launching chatbots. Unfortunately, most chatbots fail to meet the objectives they were designed to achieve. This may explain why only 16% of the consumers we surveyed in our third annual AI 360 study expect that they'll prefer service by a chatbot over a human by the end of 2021. But COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior and elevated CAI from a nice-to-have feature to a must-have differentiator for banks.
So, why do most chatbots fail? Answer: the success of a chatbot program depends almost entirely on whether the people developing it have the experience and skills to tackle five important questions.