Conversational AI is a type of artificial intelligence that facilitates the human like conversation between a human and a software system in real time.
SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Utpal Chakraborty, Chief Digital Officer, Allied Digital Services Ltd., AI Researcher
Introduction to Conversational AI
Conversational AI is a type of artificial intelligence that facilitates the human like conversation between a human and a software system in real time. It is a piece of software that a person can talk to, like chatbot, social messaging app, interactive agent, or smart device. These applications enable users to ask questions, get opinions, find support, or complete tasks remotely. Conversational systems are powered by a conversational engine named NLP (Natural Language Processing, a branch of AI that deals with linguistic and conversational cognitive science). They make use of large volumes of data processed with machine learning, and natural language processing to aid imitate human interactions, recognizing speech and text inputs and translating their meanings in different languages. Businesses can setup automated chatbots or virtual assistants that can communicate with humans via voice or text and in different languages of user preferences.
Conversational AI in Banking
Providing Banking & Financial products and services to the customers through variety of digital channels like chatbot, social media, and voiced based virtual assistants has become a necessity for the banks and financial institutions today. It has also been forecasted that conversational way of banking will take over all other forms of banking and the customers would love to avail the banking and financial services over multiple digital channels of their choice and ease.
The Rise of Conversational AI in Banking Domain
An aspect of AI that is redefining customer engagement in banking is conversational banking. This has been fuelled by a rise in conversational AI solutions and natural language processing (NLP) technology that allows us to interact, transact, and collaborate using natural chat. Technically field of NLP has two subvertical, NLU (Natural Language Understanding) and NLG (Natural Language Generation) that makes NLP engines capable of understanding user queries and generating answers accordingly. Conversational AI has also now been powered by machine learning and deep learning algorithms.
As we move from using visual interfaces to using conversational AI, a whole new model of engagement is made possible. Today, conversational interfaces represent one of the biggest shifts in banking user interfaces to date and are transforming how they acquire and retain customers and build their brand identity. The popularity of messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Microsoft Teams or SMS, and the adoption of voice- activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri are bringing conversations back into our digital banking experiences.
Conversational AI has huge potential for improving customer service and overall customer experience specially in the retail banking sector.
AI can help banks and financial institutions in many ways. Helping customers to choose where they are spending their money based on their spending pattern and manage their finances better. Predictive AI helped the global financial industry transform an operationally intensive service delivery model to one that is smart and built around self-service solutions. A higher share of AI-based, self-service solutions helps customers get tasks done without the rigors of navigating a manual process which improves customer satisfaction. It also helps banks and financial institution to save on human capital and reduce cost.
Banks in India and across the globe have the opportunity to go beyond nascent chatbots and shift to AI-enabled conversational banking platform to simultaneously improve customer experience, improve maintainability and reduce cost to serve.
Advantages of Conversational Banking
- Faster operation, lower waiting times
- More customer satisfaction as they are able to constantly keep track of their account balance, perform any transactions with just a voice command or few taps and manage the information on their personal profile and portfolios.
- Automation of repetitive tasks. Same kind of repetitive questions can be answered even better by one piece of software within practically no time. Multilingual, customer can interact with the conversational systems in any language.
- Round the clock consistent service. Conversational banking services are available 24 by 7.
- There is no need to stand in lines and wait for the bank timings to open in order to carry out certain operations.
- For a bank rendering their products and services in these light-weight conversational channels are cost effective both from infrastructure and implementation perspective, quicker to develop and deploy, low maintenance cost and cheaper when it comes to adding a new product or service to the conversational channels.
- Highly secure and compliant with the regulatory requirements of the central banks. Although there could be few limitations of conversational banking in terms of maturity of NLP engines to interpret any types of conversations from the end customer in any vernacular; but overall there are huge advantages overpowering the conversational AI in banking making daily operations much easier, cost reduction, saving customer’s time, available anytime-anywhere and providing services efficiently to the customer.
Future of Conversational Banking
Banking that considers on conversational interfaces is going to lead the near future. Apart from answering to common questions, conversational AI will handle complex questions, perform complex transactions, understand customer sentiments, and facilitate highly personalized conversations.
Conversational banking can eventually be transformed into a proactive platform that can notify customers about low balance, premium dues or giving recommendations based on previous purchases and financial background. It will be more of a personal financial concierge that will guide customers not only considering the current financial status of an individual, but it will also consider the liabilities and future plans and provide suitable recommendations.
How Conversational Banking upholds Sustainability
Conversational Banking is not only transforming the traditional financial services but also, they are already playing a major role in revolutionizing sustainable finance or sustainability at large.
Firstly, using the power of cutting-edge technologies, like NLP, Machine Learning it has been able to enhance the digital reach of financial services to those segments of population that did not have access to the services through traditional channels. For example – Financial Inclusion is one of those areas where Conversational Banking has been playing a major role by bringing a large section of unbanked population under the financial umbrella using disruptive digital technologies. Also, rendering financial services and making those available to the customers wherever they are available- like, social banking, WhatsApp banking, mobile banking etc. are some of the biggest attempts towards sustainability and green finance. The second major impact of Conversational Banking is that it has also been able to make financial services affordable for all by bringing down the cost with the use of transformative technologies.
FinoAllied Conversational Banking Platform
FinoAllied is a Conversational AI Platform developed by Allied Digital Services Ltd., specifically designed for Banking & Finance. This is a Digital Fabric which will wrap over banks existing Enterprise Service Bus connected to the bank’s IT systems. So, Its a Plug & Play and Configurable Architecture. The product is designed in a cloud based AI NLP engine, it’s cloud native & on DevOps backbone.
It can be deployed in hybrid/multi cloud architecture. Currently 50+ Banking & Financial Services are inbuilt and can be rendered quickly via different digital channels of banks. The product leverages hyper- automation wherein bot can be rapidly customized and administered to deliver all standard and customed banking services over multiple digital & social channels, open channel Digital Banking as a Service (DBaaS).
The pandemic has propelled the adoption of Conversational Banking in a great way and the banks has already been rendering more and more services in the digital channels. Faster implementation timeline, low cost, easy maintainability, and huge customer adoption rate are some of the major benefits of Conversational AI in the banking arena.
Many small and mid-size banks have now been able to make use of these new channels a fundamental part of their banks’ wider customer engagement strategy. Banks have been able to maximize ROI and fast track digital adoption of their products and services leveraging the power of cutting-edge conversational AI technologies.
It is also forecasted that conversational banking will feature a rapid growth in coming years and will take over all other forms of conventional methods of banking. A platform like FinoAllied provides a perfect solution for the banks looking for ready to use, plug and play, subscription based flexible model wherein the platform can be integrated with banking ecosystem with three to four weeks’ time.