Banks, retailers and other businesses have a big problem. Recent research shows that around a third of customers don’t open or act on emails due to concerns about fraud. Moving the conversation from a string of emails email to a singular bot chat increases acceptance and will help drive better conversations and results.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see an email from a bank, credit card company, your tax agency or other financial-type institution? In many cases, the immediate thought is “is this a scam?” And no wonder, with trillions of spam emails, now mostly filtered out of our in-boxes, but still creating a source of worry to all.
Of the legitimate ones that we do read, most bank or finance emails are littered with messages about being vigilant over security, and people are right to worry. Just one dodgy mail slipping through the net could spell financial chaos.
A recent YouGov poll and related research highlight that a third of customers worry about these messages, with 20% of younger bankers ignoring them and failing to take action, and for older age groups, the figure is over 40%.
Similar worries will hamper other institutions and markets, where a constant string of marketing emails can ramp up concerns, for example, the typical output of Amazon’s combined messaging and communications efforts across its varying brands can be scary, no matter how good automated or manual filing efforts are.
Communicating a better way
The logical way to remove the underlying sense of threat and improve the quality of these communications is for a single bot conversation to take over from the machine-gun rattle of endless emails. One bot, one relationship, one way to query actions or to provide a single line of information when it comes to a transaction.
For example, making a deposit or withdrawal at the bank can be confirmed by the bot, and it can offer to put some money in savings if appropriate or provide your balance and upcoming payments rather than diving into the app and flicking through various screens.
Should there be a genuine alert the bot can pop up via SMS or Messenger or within the banking app and provide an alert with immediate actions to take.
Similarly for Amazon, instead of a dozen “you may like”, “order confirmed”, “order dispatched, “order delivered” and “please rate your order” or “you may also like” emails, the giant and other retailers could roll these up into a single bot conversation that is triggered by the events or a user query to provide one line of inquiry and response.
And the chatbot doesn’t have to be text, it can provide visual references, map view of the parcel tracker and so on, how much easier is that than handling a half-a-dozen emails over the course of a few days, helping the customer keep track and feel in control of the process rather than being fed a constant stream of interrupting emails with no flow to them.
The bot feed is rapidly becoming a trusted source of information for customers and for the bank or retailer is just an extension of current communications methods. As people get more used to bots and messenger feeds relating to personal and sensitive information, they will treat it as just another tool, and as they chat back to the bot or make choices, trust will grow, reducing the need to rely on that constant barrage of emails.
The challenger banks already rely on bots and technology to create better (allegedly seamless) banking with tools like Cleo (pictured), but with billions of customers still with their traditional banks, it is past time for them to make things simpler and easier for customers.
Some of the world’s many banks are already on the case when it comes to bots, but plenty of others are still sticking to communications methods that they feel comfortable with, even as their customers move on or become increasingly concerned about the risks.
Chatbots provide a new venue for increasingly fluent and fluid conversations using AI to understand customer intent and provide a flexible range of choices and information. While the technology may be rooted in chatbots, banks can add virtual avatars, animated characters or other features to make the conversations feel more personal and reinforce the feelings of comfort and security to get over the hump of nagging doubt about security.
Of course, the hackers and fakers will soon be looking to produce fake bots to steal people’s details, so regular security lessons and messaging will remain a part of the process. But for most people, these bots will become their digital friends for all things finance or shopping, moving away from apps or sites to bring about that marketing dream of a single conversation with each customer, perfectly tailored to their needs.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.