Intelligent Virtual Assistants: Must-Have for Digital-First Banks

Today's consumers expect a seamless, simple digital experience from their financial institutions. Intelligent virtual assistants can help you deliver.

Financial institutions have started modernizing their practices and implementing artificial intelligence for assistance. These intelligent virtual assistants are helping customers save time on the most basic of tasks and allowing them to become more involved in their banking processes. Banks are investing more time into modernizing their platforms and processes. Digital banking is becoming more popular and has quickly become the preferred way to handle banking transactions for customers. A recent survey conducted by Forbes Advisor found that 76% of Americans used their bank’s mobile app to accomplish everyday banking tasks within the past year. The same study found that some of the most valuable lessons customers desired from their banking institutions can be conducted by a virtual assistant. The top four tasks included viewing statements and account balances (most helpful feature for 33% of respondents), transferring funds between accounts (31%), bill pay (28%), and peer-to-peer payments (11%). 

Customers prefer seamless processes and often like to conduct transactions independently or without the hassle of having to visit a banking location or wait in a call queue for a representative. Below, we highlight why virtual assistants are beneficial for both customers and financial institutions overall. Still, before we dive into the benefits of virtual assistants, it is essential to understand the differences between virtual assistants and commonly used “chatbots.”

Virtual Assistants vs. Chatbots

Virtual assistants are one of the most advanced types of AI technology used for customer service needs. One of the most common types of AI used for customer service needs is chatbots. In research conducted by Cornerstone Advisors, by the end of 2020, 13% of financial institutions were using chatbot technology for their customer service needs. However, it is important to know the key differences between these two commonly used AI technologies.

Chatbots tend to be simpler, which is suitable for beginning users of AI technology. They often use pop-up screens to quickly and easily answer inquiries via typing or text only.

Virtual Assistants (often voice-activated) are far more advanced than simple chatbots and can handle more complex questions and transactions. Virtual assistants can handle more specific, complex, personalized requests like the tasks mentioned previously. Virtual assistants that use voice recognition offer personalization that chatbots just can’t deliver on. They are beginning a new wave of AI-driven, digital banking and paving a new customer service path.

Make Simple Transactions

Your voice can activate some virtual assistants. This can be incredibly useful when, for instance, transferring money to friends or family or between any of your accounts. You can issue specific commands like: “Transfer money from checking to saving,” “send Jack $50,” or “schedule a bill payment of $300 to my auto loan.” 

These intelligent virtual assistants can save you time on everyday banking transactions and be carried out quickly without accessing various menus or screens; the voice-activated assistants can be an even more incentive to implement them in your bank processes. Many financial institutions have virtual assistants accessible through their mobile apps but are sometimes available through text messages or websites.

Learn More About How Conversational AI Can Benefit Financial Institutions

No Need to Type

Tying into the voice-activated aspect of virtual assistants, you no longer need to type in all of your banking information. These virtual assistants can implement voice interaction to input banking information, answer questions, or direct you to the right page or department. You can talk directly to the virtual assistant (sometimes they even have names depending on the institution or platform), and they will help you get the answer to your inquiries. These voice-interactive virtual assistants may be a better fit, or even a slight modern compromise, for customers who prefer to talk rather than type or text. You can have some form of “traditional” banking processes in a new and modernized way by experiencing voice-activated tools being handled by virtual banking assistants.

Quick & Easy Responses to Everyday Inquiries

As mentioned above, virtual assistants can get basic information regarding an account without the assistance of a human representative or scroll through many pages of a bank’s website. These virtual assistants can quickly and easily access account information. For example, virtual banking assistants’ most common tasks included checking account balances, paying bills, transferring money, viewing investments, or getting routing numbers associated with a specific account. They can also easily lock or unlock credit/debit cards and carry out other banking tasks right from your smartphone app.

24/7 Support

Virtual assistants can work around the clock and help customers no matter the time of day. Modern customers expect to be able to check and manage their accounts at any time. Integrating AI into the customer service experience will soon take over the industry, and those organizations that fail to adapt will quickly fall behind. Scaling and continuing to grow businesses and enhance customer service experience is key to the banking competition. Customers want to feel supported (no matter the time of day) and want inquiries to be handled quickly, efficiently, and in as much detail as possible to further understand their accounts and banking needs.

Fraud Alerts

Many virtual assistants send automated notifications whenever there is suspicious activity on your accounts, such as possible fraud, abnormally large tips at a restaurant, or duplicate charges from places of business. Sometimes customers fail to regularly check their emails or even open texts from automated numbers. In this case, notifications from your banking institutions can be an extra line of contact to ensure your accounts are secure and that you are aware of any unusual activity pending charges or changes to your accounts. They can ask for user verification to make sure hefty charges are valid and save you time and money dealing with fraudulent charges should they ever occur.

Advanced Analytics and Insights

Virtual assistants can help streamline transactions and make them more manageable. Still, they can also track your spending and show you detailed insights into where you are spending your money each month. These virtual assistants can offer several valuable features such as weekly spending reports, quickly search for past transactions, monitor recurring charges, notify changes to your FICO credit score, and track account balance trends.

Suppose voice commands can activate the virtual assistant. In that case, you can ask specific questions related to your spending habits like “How much did I spend at the grocery store last month?” or “How many times did I eat at {a specific restaurant} last month?”.

This can be helpful information to be on top of your spending habits and know where to cut back, save, or splurge. Banking virtual assistants are starting to be implemented in some of the financial industry’s top apps. These intelligent assistants can help users get the most out of their banking accounts and experience and offer easy, convenient access to the correct information to help them better manage their money.

Many financial institutions are building their online platforms and are utilizing virtual assistants to help them build stronger, ongoing relationships with their clients. These virtual assistants can help customers get exactly what they need and desire from their bank, from their money, and are helping to create a sense of trust between institutions and customers while adding value on the institution’s part in the process. 

Modern banking virtual assistants are changing traditional means of banking for the better as more and more banking institutions evolve their customer service processes to include virtual assistants, experience with their mobile apps, and new tools to help you get the most out of your banking experience. Virtual assistants are implemented to understand customers better and help them better understand their money and how to get the most out of it.

Want to learn more about how intelligent virtual assistants and conversational AI can benefit your financial institution? Check out this free infographic.

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