Conversations are changing in one of the fastest evolving sectors globally, financial services. Chatbots, ever-easier to create, have brought about a communication revolution that is bound to alter the future of financial services for years to come.
In this article, I look into the “Whys” and “Why nots” of this change and their essential takeaways.
Conversations are becoming automated and tech-driven to facilitate cost and resource focused efficiencies across the industry.
You might think this is a real disappointment for financial services firms becoming ‘less personable’, but in reality, you wouldn’t know if you were talking to a human or not. Conversational marketing tools, often driven by AI, have reached an inflection point. They are now so clever that often an automated solution will give you an answer quicker than a human. According to Drift, 35% of people already use a chatbot to resolve a complaint or problem, and 40% of millennials claim to use a bot on a daily basis anyway (Mobile Marketer, 2020).
Conversational tools are now so sophisticated that, at times, we might not even know if we are talking to a chatbot or human. And it does beg the question, do we really care? We live in a world where everyone is becoming more impatient and they simply want an answer to their requests faster – it’s as simple as that. In fact, according to SalesForce, 69% of consumers prefer the speed of chatbots to communicate with brands.
Financial Services has been one of those sectors which have really embraced innovation over the last few years. The rise of retail challenger banks and SaaS-driven firms has taken the industry by storm, and quite frankly, made it better.
Relay (2020) believes that around 65% of Financial Services businesses that have implemented Chatbots are in the SaaS space. It could be assumed that their tech-driven culture and mindset is allowing these firms to adopt these technologies faster and develop a future-proof business model.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt, work from home (where possible) and utilize tools like chatbots to improve our digital engagement. Conversational productivity software now forms a critical component to any firms ability to better engage users, if you are unable to deliver your visitor the information quicker, the harsh reality is that they will leave your website (or app) or be unsatisfied with the experience – hopefully not both!
I have learned from many years of digital marketing experience just how hard it is to get valuable traffic into a brand’s website or app – it is tough! It seems a real shame and a wasted opportunity to let visitors down when they arrive on your website or app and deliver a poor user experience – when really this is the bit of the puzzle you can control and perfect. In my opinion, and I’m sure any good performance or growth marketing professional will concur, that getting visitors to your brand is a skill! If you can’t do the ‘easier’ activities associated with engaging users, you might feel that your firm isn’t maximizing its opportunity to retain or transact with visitors.
Delivering a tailored experience is now almost a ‘given’ for any firm. Chatbots are fast, personalized tools driving users to their desired endpoint, quicker. And the reality is, there is a greater chance of them engaging or transacting with your brand, regardless if you operate in a B2B or B2C environment. This is evidenced by Juniper Research who estimates that chatbots will account for $112 billion in retail sales by 2023 (Mobile Marketer). Hubspot suggests that 47% of consumers would be open to making a purchase via chatbot already.
Equally important to many firms is their ability to deliver exceptional customer service regardless. The pandemic had forced many firms to quickly transition to a flexible, digital working approach. Overall, I think companies have impressed customers and clients across the board because we seem to like it. I would imagine the pace of response is a key point here. I think it just emphasizes the point that having a tech-driven culture works wonders regardless of any external factors like a pandemic.
Gartner anticipates that by the end of 2020, 28% of customer support interactions will be performed by a chatbot. In my view, this further emphasizes the appetite to invest in conversational tools that deliver impressive experiences. In the modern world, you have to satisfy existing clients/customers with top-level operational technology and leave some scope to impress prospective buyers.
Now, some readers of this article must come to a conclusion and think ‘If this chatbot solution is so good, why do we also need a website too? Why not just have the chatbot almost acting as the website..?’ And you know what, you raise a very good question!
The truth is, we need to cater to everyone’s preferences, some visitors will not use a chatbot and browse on a website. But either way, the uptake in chatbot use by users of all ages, is growing rapidly. So, we need to play to the masses and give users choice – when websites and chatbots are used in conjunction with each other, they are at their most powerful. And, not forgetting a fundamental point – you need website pages (and content) to benefit from strong SEO, you simply couldn’t scale a website without content, search engines wouldn’t consider your website or content ‘relevant’. And remember, even if your firm does have a chatbot, it can always be improved to deliver an even better customer experience – analytics and insights drive change!
I want to leave you with a couple of takeaway points.
You might think, ‘Ben is clearly pro chatbots here’ – and you know what, I am. I believe that conversational tools adoption is now really taking effect across the globe, after many years of talking about it. In my view, we should be encouraging all firms to realize the potential here – especially now that platforms allow you to build conversational marketing workflows without a single line of code (no-code solutions).
Firstly, those people who can see a vision for chatbots as an overarching business productivity software will be the ones who gain the most out of these tools. Their blank canvas nature means that they can be used to facilitate almost any data process. Think bigger than chatbots are just a marketing tool – they can be a tool used by every business department.
Secondly, I came across two stats that made me think about the future of conversational tools – are they just a fad? Click Z project that by 2024 the global chatbot market will be worth over $994m (ClickZ) – that’s a fair size for a tech solution, we can’t deny that…And the stat that really made me think… Gartner predicts that by the end of this year, over 50% of enterprise companies (like Google, IBM, and Facebook) will spend more money each year on chatbots than mobile apps (Gartner – 2020).
Why would some of the world’s leading tech titans invest in this if it wasn’t going to form a key part of their future business? Irrespective of your company size, thinking like a FinTech or SaaS focused business can streamline processes and tasks to make your firm even more efficient.