Financial services is heating up with artificial intelligence especially in the area of virtual assistance. I’ve spent the last several months traveling the country working with CIOs and EVPs of Business in the Banking, Wealth, and Insurance industries. The core focus is extremely clear:

Enrich the customer experience though all communication channels with personal conversations that can predict and assist customers to improve their lives. 

Augmenting service with AI virtual agents and humans will become the NEW NORMAL very soon. While humans are great to create a personal experience, they can’t see the entire field across all the data to provide insights like a machine learning virtual assistant. Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds? Let the VA handle the bottom 30% of customer calls and bring in a human to engage on more complex issues? Better yet, a three-way convo between the customer, VA, and the rep!

What’s amazing about this approach: The VA can reference & predict life events during engagement with the customer through daily service interactions, while the human can play co-pilot to direct or take over the convo when necessary. Let’s not forget the other fascinating abilities that the VA can bring to the table like, educating customers about ways to improve their lives, recommend services that may help at the appropriate time, or navigate your complex websites for the right info at the right time.

I was recently asked by a CIO, “Why do we depend on Google so much?” My reply, ”That’s easy to explain, tell me any other service that you can invoke to ask a question in a time of need? It’s simple, powered by the user, and is available anytime and anywhere with answers whenever we ask.”

The CIO, pondered for a moment and said,”Never thought about it that way, and you are saying, that the virtual assistant can be the new Google?” And my reply,” Better than that, the VA can solve the customers problems by invoking process automation, help with life events, and optimize their service experiences”

Yep, that’s why all vendors are pushing hard on AI for virtual agents, IBM with its great Watson Assistant, Google with the amazing just introduced Duplex, and Amazon’s dominance to automate our lives with Alexa.

Check out my banking Watson demo that demonstrates a user persona that everyone has experienced at least once in your life. Let me set the stage for our journey: I will play the part of the customer – Dennis is a Canadian traveling abroad in the US, when the most unfortunate event occurs, the dreaded text alert from your bank notifying you of a problem! This event occurs after I landed while currently making my way to my client’s office, early of course! What shall I do?

At first I thought this was a one time event. Well, not so. After 10+ visits to all industries, I witnessed the same reaction around the board room table. Wow, I’m on to something here! The next wave of technology is upon us, the tectonic plates are shifting again, people are finally done with the keyboard and mouse to interact with technology!

The power of conversation
From the moment you wake up, until the moment you go to sleep, it drives everything we do in life.
We have conversations with our family, discussions with our co-workers, and we communicate with companies that handle our personal lives!

What if we could harness the most basic element of conversation, VOICE, to change the game for all user interactions?