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Banking on voice

Voice-assisted devices will revolutionize the financial-services industry by providing customers with on-demand service and by helping banks reduce costs.

Imagine a typical morning when you’re getting the kids dressed, putting breakfast on the table, and trying to get out the door on time. Wouldn’t it be nice to be reminded that you have a bill due that day or to transfer funds to cover an upcoming payment? Wouldn’t it be even nicer if instead of having to check your email or texts to find the reminder, your home’s voice-assisted device just told you? Or better yet, what if your voice-assisted device could tell you about an even better product and pricing available to you based on your personal credit score and profile?

This scenario may seem futuristic, but voice technology already has reached a level of maturity and popular acceptance that is changing the way relationships with consumers are being built at financial institutions. And by looking across entire organizations for voice-related opportunities — from making operating model changes to integrating voice into digital touch points along the customer journey — companies can save money while improving customer experience.

Voice technology meets consumer needs

Financial services is full of customer pain points that could be resolved with the help of voice interaction technology. Everyone has daily financial needs, but getting basic guidance can be intimidating and difficult. And even for those who already have a relationship with a bank, factors such as frustrating experiences with call centers, long wait times, and high fees are chipping away at customer loyalty.

Voice technology delivers on banking needs

Digital banking can address some of these problems, and in fact, eight in 10 consumers in PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey said they conducted at least one financial activity through a digital channel in the past year. But because these activities are self-service, banks lose the chance to make a personal connection with customers. Voice interaction can provide a newfound level of convenience and, because it is more human-like than a self-service online experience or impersonal call center, it can restore this lost connection. Instead of having to search for a routing number or worry about an outstanding payment, consumers can quickly get personalized information simply by asking their voice-assisted device, which will know them much like a real personal assistant would and have all of that information on-hand.

Voice interaction technology is already starting to contribute to a frictionless retail journey. PwC’s survey showed that 32 percent of consumers use voice technology to shop. And according to a separate PwC report, roughly 80 percent of consumers report satisfaction with the experience of voice-enabled shopping.

Businesses also win with voice

According to PwC estimates, roughly two-thirds of the inquiries handled by call centers concern basic customer assistance issues, such as card reissuance, transaction history, password reset, or balance inquiry. PwC data indicates that voice technology — integrated with a next-generation operating model and AI, plus robotic process automation (RPA) — can significantly reduce the cost of servicing these requests, by as much as 15 to 40 percent. This approach will also provide an experience that meets the one-click, on-demand expectations of today’s consumer.

But the opportunity extends well beyond customer service. Leading banks will reimagine the customer journey across various channels, products, and services with end-to-end integration. Leveraging data and AI, banks can also improve revenue growth and customer retention.

Voice interaction effectively converts human input into standardized data, which can be used in many different ways to achieve cost savings and efficiencies that benefit both the bank and the consumer. For example, if a consumer asks a voice assistant to open an account, the bank can call on customer information it already has from previous voice interactions to automatically recognize and verify customer details. It can then use intelligent process automation to suggest the right account or product, and then use RPA to send prepopulated forms to the consumer and transpose the information to the system of record. The bank could then find opportunities by developing personalized recommendations, enabled by the new data it’s collected, combined with back-end data, such as purchase transaction history, which would be derived from the new end-to-end standardized workflow.

Leading banks will reimagine the customer journey across channels, products, and services with end-to-end integration. Leveraging data and AI, banks can also improve revenue and customer retention.

Successful integration of voice in these ways could have a direct impact on costs. For instance, PwC thinks voice could reduce frontline personnel by 10 to 15 percent. It could also diminish risk for the bank, cutting human error by as much as 15 to 30 percent. Voice integration could also improve customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.

Before banks can benefit from these end-to-end voice applications, though, they’ll need to think about the implications for their operating model. Banks should:

  • Develop a customer acquisition and servicing model tailored to the various target segments (mass, affluent, high-net-worth, and ultra-high-net-worth)
  • Be deliberate with the implications for employees, processes, and technology at the branch, call center, and innovation centers
  • Integrate complementary technologies, such as AI, application programming interfaces (APIs), and RPA, in a cost-effective and secure way without changing the core banking platform
  • Change their marketing approach to accelerate how customers embrace voice technology

Once this groundwork is laid, organizations can begin to align their business strategy with deployment plans to engage employees in all lines of the business on customer adoption. Banks that make the most of these voice applications and break out of a narrow, product-centric approach to customer service and acquisition will have a competitive advantage.

Mohib Yousufani

Mohib Yousufani is a leading practitioner in financial services with Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting group. He is a principal with PwC US, with a focus on business strategy, next-generation operating models, and digital transformation in the financial-services industry.

Julien Courbe

Julien Courbe is the financial-services advisory leader for PwC and a principal with PwC US. He is a frequent commentator on IT-related trends and on banking and other financial-services industries.


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