Financial services clients have become more demanding than ever, forcing banks and credit unions to deliver differentiated client experiences, accelerate roll out of new products, offer aggressive pricing, and shorten servicing turnaround times as they fight to retain and attract clients.

These growing expectations, amid an increasingly competitive market, are pushing financial services institutions to invest in innovation and emerging technologies. Such tools deliver frictionless client experiences by automating simple service while freeing agents to focus on resolving complex issues, providing financial wellness advice, and driving proactive outbound outreach that ensures long-term relationship growth.

In a recent survey of 200 customer experience (CX) professionals in the financial services sector, more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents said they believe that by 2025, technologies such as AI-powered virtual agents will soon enable human agents to spend more time on client outreach than inbound interactions.

This human-technology hybrid interaction model for CX offers the flexibility and scalability necessary to meet the rising standards of service that clients have come to expect in industries such as retail and hospitality. Clients today want fast service (including self-service), omnichannel options, and a personalized experience from their financial services institutions. And despite insistence on speed and digital experiences, clients also expect their privacy and data to be fully protected.

A strong majority of these CX professionals anticipate their organizations will increase spending on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual agents (82%), partner ecosystems (78%), and block chain (68%) to better meet client needs and enhance efforts to grow the business.

Conversational AI powered virtual agents can not only help financial services institutions elevate the client experience by providing robust self-service functionality across multiple channels (such as voice, text and email), but also help them elevate the agent experience by providing real time guidance as they are interacting with clients. AI, therefore, is going to be a key investment focus for financial services institutions.

Also, these organizations are looking to add new revenue streams by exploring newer business models, such as Banking-as-a-Service and Marketplace, that allow them to extend their products and services to new client segments. This is creating partner ecosystems that allow companies and brands outside of the core financial sector to distribute financial services. An example of this is Lyft, the ride sharing company, offering a debit card to their drivers that makes it easy and quick to receive their payments. Blockchain is also becoming main stream, with a number of banks either already allowing or exploring offering their clients to transact in crypto currency. As the ecosystems get complex with new business models and product offerings, financial services institutions need a comprehensive CX strategy enabled by a modern CX platform and supported by empowered agents to fuel future growth.

These are great examples of how technology can improve the client experience while making financial services institutions more efficient. Yet as respondents to the aforementioned survey make clear, meeting the emotional and digital expectations of clients requires not just technology, but also a human touch that can strengthen an organization’s relationships through proactive, individualized service.

Financial services institutions that can provide simple experiences while competitively offering products, solutions, and thoughtful guidance, position themselves to gain lifetime clients. The survey shows that 78% of CX professionals believe technology and systems are important to the successful execution of their CX strategies.

Though intuitive and easy-to-use technologies are essential to delivering seamless experiences tech-savvy clients now demand, financial organizations are realizing that technology must be augmented by humans that meet the emotional and digital expectations of today’s modern clients. While emerging technologies are invaluable for keeping clients informed of steps in the mortgage process or initiating a loan application, they can’t adequately address the emotional dimensions of financial decisions and challenges. To fully meet these needs, human assistance is required. Seventy-one percent of CX professionals responding to the survey say that frontline (human) agents and advisors are still important to the successful execution of their CX strategies.

Emerging technologies not only benefit clients by enabling self-service and omnichannel options for them, but also benefit agents by providing valuable client context and insight in real time, allowing them to quickly and proactively address client needs and offer a personalized interaction experience.

Beyond assisting clients with immediate issues and concerns, agents will see a hybrid CX model change the substance of their client interactions and how they are measured. They no longer will be solely focused on, and evaluated by, traditional service oriented Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as Average Handle Time (AHT). Rather, they increasingly will be expected to contribute to, and be measured by, their contributions to client value growth. The survey shows that 82% of CX professionals agree that agent KPIs should be adjusted to better measure impact on client revenue in the long term.

The ability of organizations to meet client expectations for fast and seamless experiences, while also being understood and recognized, is becoming a critical differentiator. Providing personalized and proactive client service that maintains high levels of data security and integrity can be achieved through a CX strategy focused on delivering “humanized digital experiences,” by combining emerging technologies with human assistance.

About Author:
Rahul Kumar is the director of industry strategy for financial services at Talkdesk.