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How your bank can get started with chatbots

Financial Institution: AI

Woman pitching chatbots

Despite their measurable benefits, just 41% of mid-sized banks have discussed chatbots – and only 2% have implemented chatbots into their banking platforms. Moreover, only 11% plan to invest in chatbot technology in the near future. 

That’s a real problem for mid-sized banks, especially when you consider that more than 70% of large banks have already implemented chatbots and other AI technologies for front- and back-office functions. Once they figure out how to scale, how long do you think it will be before the big banks encroach on your territory? 

Savvy mid-sized banks recognize the fact that chatbots and other artificially intelligent technologies are not only necessary for survival, but represent a golden opportunity to gain a competitive advantage and grow market share. When your competitors ignore what chatbots can do for them, you can swoop in and show their customers how your modernized bank can help them achieve their goals. 

It’s a powerful strategy that promises to secure your bank’s future. Here’s how to get started.  

Identify use cases for your bank

Evaluate your bank, your customers and your market position. Brainstorm ways chatbots can help you increase efficiencies, save money, enhance customer experience and grow revenue.  

For example, if your bank specializes in small business lending, you might envision a chatbot that can educate customers about SBA loans or business lines of credit. If your bank specializes in personal lending, your chatbot might be able to help customers learn about refinancing opportunities. 

Consider your current challenges. Does your staff struggle to service high-value accounts because they’re tied up answering routine questions? Are you struggling to grow because your budget doesn’t have room for additional full-time staff? Chatbots can help you meet such challenges.  

Talk to your team to discover ways chatbots can help them focus on relationships and high-value activities. Ask customers what you can do to improve their experience. Once you’ve identified specific use cases for chatbots within your bank, it’s time to ready your organization. 

Ready your organization 

You know chatbots can help your bank save money, make money and improve customer relationships. Now, it’s time to sell leadership and other stakeholders on the idea. Explain the benefits chatbots can bring to your bank and the impact it will have on your bottom line. 

Once leadership is on board, it’s important to adopt four strategies for successful implementation of AI in banking:  

Make AI cross-functional

Any artificially intelligent initiative, including chatbots, should exist outside of traditional IT and operate as a shared services model across the entire organization. Establish an AI Center of Excellence (CoE) that fosters bank-wide collaboration. 

Start with business needs

You might envision a hundred different ways chatbots can benefit your bank, but it’s important to prioritize your business needs first. Don’t hold the project back by attempting to harmonize all your data at once; rather, take incremental steps that ensure quality solutions. 

Plan for quick wins

Full-blown AI development cycles can span several years. That can be a tough sell to bank leadership. Prioritize use cases that deliver value rapidly, then launch pilots that demonstrate the full potential of chatbots. This, in turn, will make it easier to convince leadership to fund additional projects. 

Build a digital culture

Implementing any new technology requires new roles, processes and ways to collaborate. Bank leadership must establish a digital culture that brings everyone into the fold. Important roles include a “translator” to communicate with business and tech stakeholders and an “evangelist” to champion projects in your bank.  

Choose the right partners

Most financial institutions leverage a combination of internal talent, external resources and turnkey components. Even the largest banks partner with outside resources to implement chatbots. Some have migrated to in-house leadership roles, but they still rely on outside experts for new and ongoing projects.  

Partnerships might present the best opportunities for regional and community banks, since they allow you to retain your core focus on customers and financial services while complementing those strengths with cutting-edge skills and technology. 

It’s important to identify a partner experienced with chatbot solutions and integrating AI into banks. Create a scorecard that lists the most important partnership criteria, then carefully vet potential partners based on their expertise and cultural fit. Your partner can make or break the project, so you also need to evaluate potential risks. 

A good partner can guide you through chatbot implementation and can even help you ready your organization or make your case to leadership. Chances are, experienced partners will identify opportunities for increased efficiencies and revenue growth you haven’t considered. 

There’s no doubt chatbots will play a critical role in the future of banking – and the future is here. Banks that ignore the power of chatbots and the remarkable benefits they offer risk falling behind, and fast. Forward-thinking banks, on the other hand, stand to gain an enormous competitive advantage by implementing chatbots that reduce costs, enhance the customer experience and, ultimately, grow revenue. 

Editor's note: Always consult with legal counsel to understand your obligations before adding a chatbot to your website.

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