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  • Writer's pictureJaime González Gasque

The Rise of Voice Technology in Financial Services

From the tweety whistles of R2-D2 in Star Wars to Samantha’s deep voice in Her, science fiction movies have significantly impacted our expectations of the capabilities of real-world voice assistants. And then, Siri debuted. Although it could hardly handle something more complex than playing a song or showing the weather forecast when it debuted, it brought speech recognition into consumers’ everyday lives.

As artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies progressed at breakneck speed, they enabled new capabilities for Siri and paved the way for new voice assistants such as Alexa and Cortana. Smartphones and cars answering our spoken questions are no longer science fiction.

Voice technology has already reached a maturity and comfort level sufficient to change how business–consumer relationships are built. We can ask a computer to order a pair of sneakers, book a hotel, or schedule a romantic dinner with our spouse. Voice-enabled virtual assistants are gaining more recognition every year, and the financial sector can benefit from applying voice technology in three use cases:

Voice-driven customer service

Voice-based banking

Voice-enabled payments

Voice-driven customer service

Customer service is an area financial institutions usually overlook. Automated response systems made customers so frustrated they desperately pressed zero to talk with a human after a long wait. Chatbots seemed to crack the code by enabling 24/7 instant replies. But the thing is that people speak three times faster than they type. So customers often use chatbots just to get connected with a live assistant. But instead of getting connected, they get stuck in a loop of the chatbot’s answers.

Discover key elements of an exceptional customer experience that can boost customer retention, loyalty, and profitability in the financial sector.

When leading brands pamper consumers with exceptional digital experiences, financial services providers can’t afford irritating their customers. Luckily, voice technology has evolved enough to bring value to banks and financial services.

Modern AI-powered voice chatbots can accurately mimic human intonation, understand speech patterns, and make data-driven decisions in real time to create silky smooth and highly personalized customer experiences while coping with the complexities of financial services. Instead of searching for a routing number or outstanding payment due date, consumers can quickly get relevant information simply by asking out loud.

Voice interactions can be a precious customer data set conveying valuable information. Voice technology can identify customer sentiment based on tone of voice or word choice. When an NLP-powered chatbot recognizes annoyance in a customer’s voice, it can immediately direct them to an assistant.

However, to gain a stellar competitive advantage, financial institutions should expand voice technology beyond transactional activities and reimagine the customer journey across various channels, products, and services with end-to-end integration. Voice-driven customer service can provide convenience in the account opening process, proactively find the next best offer, or deliver tailored financial advice rather than relying on the customer to visit a branch or call a personal assistant.

The true opportunity lies not in addressing basic support questions with a chatbot, but in truly integrating all branch transactional activities with voice interaction technology.

The Turkish bank Garanti has developed a Mobile Interactive Assistant (MIA) that allows customers to interact with its mobile banking app by voice, creating the impression of a conversation with a person. MIA can also tell customers about promotions and discounts at nearby businesses. It can even anticipate users’ needs by analyzing their habits. Providing an omnichannel experience is among MIA’s most remarkable features. If a request cannot be addressed on a smartphone, MIA offers other ways to solve it. For example, when a customer says they have lost their credit card, MIA asks: “Would you like me to call Alo Garanti to cancel your card?”. When the customer says “yes,” the app connects them with the call center without requiring them to authenticate again.

Voice-based banking

Digital-only banks eliminate the need to visit branch locations by enabling customers to get whatever services they need by tapping their smartphone screens. With voice-activated banking, customers don’t even need to hold a phone. Thus, branch-free banking evolves into hands-free banking.

With the omnipresence of virtual voice assistants, people are getting used to multitasking on the move. Convenience is the primary benefit of voice-based banking. Rather than logging in to a mobile banking app, customers can ask questions without stopping what they’re doing.

As voice assistant software solutions become more sophisticated, they’ll go further than simply letting people find their account balances conversationally. With voice assistants in banking software, customers will also be able to communicate with financial institutions, handling more complicated tasks like issuing invoices, paying taxes, getting loans, and renewing insurance policies.

Source: PwC Consumer Intelligence Series voice assistants survey



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