The Gist

  • AI consumer education. AI is redefining the customer-banker interaction.
  • Bot personalization. AI is adding personality and a humorous touch in finance management.
  • Cost-saving AI. Artificial intelligence in banking can even save customers money.

Fintech companies are using chatbots and virtual assistants to provide personalized and interactive financial guidance to customers, helping them make better financial decisions and improve their financial literacy. These AI-powered platforms, merging technology with the human touch, are increasingly becoming the cornerstone of customer interaction in the financial sector.

“AI holds tremendous promise to impact — and improve — the life of financial services customers, and with ChatGPT propelling itself to the front page of publications, it may seem preordained that our interactions of the future will be predominantly managed by chatbots and virtual assistance,” said Slaven Bilac, Agent IQ CEO and co-founder.

Below are five ways financial institutions use chatbots and virtual assistants to offer customers improved CX.

1. Sophisticated AI Solutions: Going Beyond Simple Answers

In December 2021, Waco, Texas-based Extraco Banks launched its public-facing AI virtual assistant, Gabby. What is unique about Gabby is that it gives customers the ability to “bypass” the simple answers and request help from a banker immediately, Bilac said. “Applying an agile mindset and AI-powered conversational analytics empowered Extraco Banks to address 75-80% of queries without involving a banker, allowing bankers to spend more time helping customers with more complex issues.”

Recently, BMO deployed a similar approach within its mobile and online banking service, according to Bilac. “Along with combining AI and humans, having a single persistent conversation with the bank ensures that customers never have to repeat themselves and that bankers always have full context.”

Other banks have taken this concept one step further by allowing customers to select their own personal banker to work with and having their digital assistant seek to augment, not replace, the customer-banker relationship.

“A common theme for these financial institutions is the focus on leveraging AI beyond chatbot capabilities,” Bilac said. “Built-in AI can make a banker's life easier by presenting contextual documents, materials and recommended responses while still keeping the banker in the driver's seat. Meanwhile, management can reap unprecedented insight by having AI continuously analyze conversations and present near real-time insight into trending customer needs and wants.”

Related Article: 4 Ways Financial Services Provide Next-Level Customer Experience

2. Incorporating Humor: Adding a Personal Touch to Financial Management

Injecting a personal touch into AI interfaces, Cleo, an AI-powered chatbot, has been revolutionizing the way users manage their finances. Cleo helps users manage their finances, either via the Cleo app or Facebook Messenger, and through integration with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Google Home will send memes, slightly bold remarks and witty quips, according to Jennifer Fuller, partner at PA Consulting.

“As well as sending messages, the bot can take its own medicine and respond to retorts,” Fuller said. “You can reply with emojis and memes in return — which shows some real sophistication and really tailors the interaction experience”

Cleo is also tailored to handle practical customer experiences, Fuller added. “For example, spend tracking is a key component of the offering, when you ask if you can afford that dress for the weekend — the response will be precise but fun. This really makes the interaction unique, fun but still responsible. A very different and fresh take on financial management.”

This trend of infusing humor and human-like qualities into AI not only personalizes the interaction, but also makes financial management a more engaging experience for the users.

3. Adaptable Chatbots: Providing Improved Financial Guidance

As we move deeper into the era of digital banking, the emergence of adaptive chatbots is playing a significant role in redefining customer service. “We’re seeing some chatbots show real adaptability and becoming a truly trusted offering,” Fuller said. “For example Erica [Bank of America’s chatbot] can tell you everything from spending insights, duplicate charges, refunds and more.”

The spending insights feature is thorough but easy to follow and visually well laid out, according to Fuller. “What makes Erica stand out though is the integration with both Zelle and Merrill Lynch. It can check on incoming payments from friends and any investments you might have. Having machine learning built into the offering as well means it will continue to evolve and improve. An impressive one stop shop.”

Learning Opportunities

These innovations in chatbot technology not only exemplify the ongoing evolution of AI in finance, but also pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible financial future.

Related Article: 5 CX Strategy Questions to Leverage the Future of AI

4. Delivering Customized Investment Recommendations

Other financial service companies offer “robo-advisers” that analyze a customer's financial situation, risk tolerance and personal financial goals to provide customized investment recommendations, said Jonathan Chin, Facteus co-founder. "They're capable of managing vast quantities of data, processing it in real-time, and leveraging complex algorithms to optimize investment portfolios. For instance, they use machine learning techniques to understand a user's financial behaviors, preferences, market dynamics, and investment analysts reports thus delivering more accurate and individualized advice.”

Some of these robo-advisers use AI to incorporate an individual’s personal preferences such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings, ethical practices and more to mold a personal investment portfolio for each user, Chin added.

5. AI-Assisted Cost-Cutting: How Technology Can Save You Money

Sharing insights and recommendations to customers is great but what happens if AI could actively save you money as well?

Trim is a money-saving assistant using AI that saved an estimated $20 million for its users in 2021, according to Fuller, calling the solution “a great example of a simple, practical and undaunting use of AI. The smart app can do things such as cancel subscriptions you aren’t actively using or even give you quotes on car insurance to find you a better deal than your current one. As far as a financial advisor in your pocket, this might be the beginning of just that.”

This innovative use of AI demonstrates how technological advancements can directly contribute to individuals' financial well-being, marking an exciting direction for the future of personal finance management.

Final Thoughts on Using Chatbots and Personal Assistants for Financial Education

Bank of America led the way in the industry when it launched Erica in 2018, but as you can see from the examples above, an increasing amount of financial services providers have followed suit, and even more can be expected to as AI makes it easier to offer customers the financial education they need to make informed decisions about products and services.

However, the more complex a product or service, the more the involvement of a human will still be needed.