How Customer Service Is Changing in Financial Sector

CustomerServPrior2JUSAA and Geico Corp. are just two of the financial firms that have developed mobile apps for customer service purposes. Instead of calling customer service to talk to a representative, customers are encouraged to interact with virtual tellers via the different apps. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, new software allows customers to ask questions such as, “Has my check cleared?” or “Am I saving enough for retirement?”

Financial firms are hoping the apps will reduce customer calls by as much as 40 percent, allowing them to cut call center staff. They expect potential savings of as much $8 billion to $12 billion a year.

Customer-Retention Terri Schepps, CEO/President of Retention Resource Center, LLC, says, “Applications make it easier for consumers to interact with businesses. According to Google the average is 26 [apps] per smart phone user. Consumers are using applications to check their bank balances, deposit and transfer money, why not interact in other ways with the bank? This is a customer friendly decisionand it should be applauded. It’s commendable for any business to save money. Banks would be less inclined to push more bank fees onto consumers and businesses if they can save money in other areas. Instead of less paying customer support positions, we could in fact be adding more high tech positions protecting data and programming sophisticated applications.”

Ajay Kumar Mishra agrees that it can be a good move if handled properly. “Engaging customer digitally is not a new concept,” says Mishra. “We have heard about this in the past and this technology is being used by some banks now to gain customer confidence. Earlier, customers were driven out of the banking hall to save staff timing. But now the customers are welcomed to explore banking facilities digitally. Branch banking is all about engagement.”

Mishra warns that it’s important that banks not waste this opportunity by pushing other services because they will end up frustrating customers instead. “ In my opinion, these solutions can help generate customer interest in financial products, increase sales and reduce processing cycle time,” explains Mishra. “But this opportunity should be used for cross-selling of other banking products as this will drive away customers from mobile based applications also.”

John Eastman shares Mishra’s concern about the implementation.  “The use of artificial-intelligence software for mobile users will present big challenges for banking institutions and will need to be introduced on a very limited and gradual basis,” Eastman says.  “They will also find themselves competing with experienced app developers who already provide some of these types of services but have the technical challenges under control due to years of testing and rollout already completed. I believe we are 2-4 years away from large scale deployment. While the banking industry may save $8 billion to $12 billion in annual expenses, the move will also frustrate consumers as the ability to connect with human beings will be set back even further. It is conceivable, by the year 2018, that AI banking apps could be mainstream if technical and communication problems are handled correctly during early year rollouts.”

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