How conversational AI can strengthen ties between a credit union and its membership while helping to keep costs down
Last updated: February 2022
Credit unions are all about community. Owned and operated by their membership, they have long prescribed to the notion of treating customer service with a personal touch. But as members’ banking habits continue to move online, it can be difficult to hold onto personalization in an increasingly digital age.
In a survey conducted by Citi, 68% of millennials expect that their smartphone will replace their wallet in the near future, while 91% of online banking customers admit to preferring using an app over visiting a physical branch. These trends clearly illustrate a desire amongst consumers to go digital, and while many of their traditional banking counterparts adopted chatbot solutions early to meet this demand, credit unions have taken a more cautious approach - waiting for the right technology that will allow them to maintain the strong, personal relationships they have built with their members.
Thanks to advances in natural language technologies, conversational AI can help credit unions to find the right balance between a personalized digital customer experience and the streamlining of internal and external processes, delighting and driving value back to its membership.
When a member interacts with their credit union - whether it’s by phone, email or in person at a branch - they expect a level of familiarity and personalization that goes and beyond a more traditional banking experience. There should be no reason why this ‘personal touch’ can’t also be extended to the chat channel. A virtual agent powered by conversational AI is able to carry out interactions with members in a way that is both personalized, highly scaleable and available 24/7.
Using advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU), a virtual agent is able to parse the nuances of human language and get to the underlying intent of a member’s request. It can then interface with existing backend systems, and a member’s own account via user authentication, to perform advanced process such as transferring funds or blocking a card without the need to involve a human service rep. This gives members agency over their interactions, driving up self-service rates and is all carried out via a conversational interface that mimics human-to-human conversation.
Should a member require assistance that is outside of the virtual agent’s scope, advanced deep learning algorithms (like boost.ai’s Automatic Semantic Understanding) assist in seamlessly transferring them to the correct human assistance so that the flow of the experience remains unbroken.
As the size of a credit union’s membership grows, its contact center needs to scale up accordingly. This can be costly and often unrealistic if there are unexpected spikes in traffic brought about by unforeseen incidents (i.e. a global pandemic). Accenture reports that 80% of the requests that service reps deal with daily tend to be repetitive, simple queries that can be easily automated.
Conversational AI offers a scalable solution to this challenge. A virtual agent is not limited by the number of inquiries it can answer simultaneously. In fact, in extreme cases of increased traffic volume during the height of COVID-19, virtual agents built on boost.ai’s conversational AI platform were able to do the equivalent work of 220 full-time employees. This helped eliminate the need to ramp up contact center staff during a period where this proved to be difficult due to a nationwide shutdown, whilst alleviating pressure on existing service reps, allowing them to concentrate on handling more complex inquiries.
While the member-facing benefits of conversational AI are often the most obvious, the flexibility of the technology also allows a credit union to streamline its own internal processes. A virtual agent can just as easily be deployed internally to be used by credit union employees as a hub for IT and HR related questions. This can include deep integrations with backend systems for reporting, security, bonus programs and more, often in the form of a friendly digital colleague that’s always available to help if IT and HR are busy.
Similarly, conversational AI can be deployed to assist member service representatives in a support role. Using boost.ai’s Human Chat functionality, a virtual agent can offer human reps suggested responses to member queries and interface with backend knowledge bases to retrieve important policy information instantly without needing to put members on hold - increasing the capacity of human support with an over 95% successful automation rate.
In order for a credit union to flourish it is important to not only increase membership, but also encourage existing members to adopt new products and services. Member acquisition can be costly, however, so streamlining onboarding and application processes are key. By leveraging data to anticipate the needs of members, a virtual agent can be utilized as an effective marketing tool. It can proactively announce new marketing campaigns or, by linking with a member’s existing account, personalize suggestions making it easier to discover new services in a way that’s engaging and, ultimately, cost-effective.
Gartner reports a 160% increase in interest from companies around implementing conversational AI solutions. This indicates that it’s only a matter of when, and not if, credit unions at large will begin adopting virtual agents into their wider digital support strategy.
To capitalize on the demographic shift of credit union membership in this tech-savvy era, it’s important to invest in a conversational AI solution that’s designed with your specific needs in mind. Does it only offer robust language understanding and a simple-to-use no-code conversation builder? And, crucially, can it guarantee a quick time-to-market, with zero risk involved?
At boost.ai, we use proprietary self-learning AI to interpret data from multiple sources like websites, chat logs and even existing chatbots as the basis to build our advanced virtual agents. With then combine this data with our expertise from launching hundreds of successful projects in Europe and North America to deliver a fully-operational, artificially intelligent virtual agent able to answer questions on 1,000+ industry-specific topics - in under 10 days.
We then give you 30 days to trial and compare it with your existing customer service channels, no questions asked. So, you can experience first-hand how a virtual agent can make a positive impact on the relationship between your credit union and its member, as well as your bottom line.