Power of Automation in Financial Customer Service: A Comprehensive Guide

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Kacper Rafalski

Updated Apr 30, 2024 • 16 min read
Young couple sitting in an office talking to a woman broker or investment adviser

Digital-first demands top financial experiences, as Salesforce states. Leverage automation to transform customer service operations and processes, unlocking your organization's full potential.

The financial industry has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, and automation has become a game-changer in recent years. By harnessing the power of automation, financial institutions can revolutionize customer support, making it more efficient, personalized, and accessible.

According to The Future of Financial Services by Salesforce, being there for customers across the customer journey is critical. Financial services companies and service institutions can use it to either satisfy their clients with first-class experience, or disappoint them, offering poor support:

“Today, more than ever, FSIs need to pinpoint the moments when customers get stuck. This means tracking all kinds of interactions — logins, chatbot sessions, article views, and more.”

Embracing the automation revolution in finance and banking

Finance and banking sectors are experiencing a paradigm shift through the adoption of automation technologies like AI, machine learning, and robotic process and automation tools. Businesses that leverage these cutting-edge technologies will be better equipped to adapt and thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The rising tide of automation

As stated in the 2023 bill.com 2023 State of Finance Automation report, over 80% of respondents agree that automation is critical for effective financial management and automation solutions make strategic goals, such as improved business insights, attracting and retaining talents) more reachable.

Level of agreement with various statements as stated in the 2023 bill.com 2023 State of Finance Automation report

Source: 2023 State of Finance Automation report, bill.com

From chatbots to robotic process automation (RPA) and AI-powered analytics, automation technologies are transforming the customer support landscape, streamlining processes, and delivering exceptional experiences to customers.

Decoding the need for automation

The key drivers automation adoption in finance and banking are:

  • the need for cost optimization
  • the desire for improved customer experiences
  • the growing complexity of regulatory requirements.

Evolving customer expectations impose on financial institutions to adapt to stay competitive. Otherwise, they’ll stay behind and become customerless. And that customers don’t forgive.

Reasons customers switch financial providers - horizontal bar graphs

Source: 2022 The Future of Financial Services, Salesforce

Automation makes sure that FSIs provide personalized support that keeps customers satisfied and loyal.

Benefits of automation in finance and banking customer support

Automation technologies offer numerous advantages to financial institutions, including:

  • Accelerated and efficient customer service
  • Personalized and tailored customer experiences
  • Improved accuracy
  • Reduced human error
  • Cost savings through streamlined processes
  • Enhanced data analysis and decision-making
  • 24/7 support availability for global customers.

This scalability allows organizations to handle high volumes of queries, while increased employee satisfaction from reducing repetitive tasks leads to better allocation of human resources to high-value tasks. Lastly, continuous improvement through AI-driven insights ensures that financial institutions stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

Automation technologies reshaping customer support

Automation software allows businesses to consolidate data from diverse touch points.

This streamlined approach offers a unified view of the business, effectively reducing data redundancies and errors, while providing a more comprehensive and precise perspective. Consequently, finance professionals can allocate more time to higher-value priorities, such as boosting revenue and profitability.

These trends are further emphasized by a recent bill.com report survey. When presented with the definition of integrated financial management solutions, nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed their belief that such solutions would deliver significant value.

Value that an integrated financial automation software would provide to managing financials – % pie chart

Source: 2023 State of Finance Automation report, bill.com

Chatbots and virtual assistants: The new face of support

Redefining customer support in the finance and banking sectors, chatbots are making their mark as indispensable tools.They provide a unified and consistent support experience, regardless of the platform customers choose to engage with.

These intelligent tools are designed to learn, adapt, and improve over time by analyzing customer interaction. Delivering more accurate and contextually relevant responses is particularly valuable in finance, where regulations and products are constantly evolving.

Conversational AI for seamless interactions

Conversational AI has emerged as a powerful tool for creating seamless interactions between businesses and their clients. By enabling chatbots to engage in natural, human-like conversations, it delivers personalized, contextually relevant assistance. This makes customer interactions more authentic and engaging.

A key advantage of conversational AI lies in its ability to decipher complex language patterns, including slang, colloquialisms, and industry-specific jargon. This proficiency proves invaluable in the finance technical language that often can impede effective communication.

Integrating chatbots into multi-channel support

One of the primary benefits of incorporating chatbots into your multi-channel support approach is their ability to deliver instant, round-the-clock assistance. By fielding inquiries on platforms such as social media, messaging apps, and websites, chatbots can quickly address common customer questions, freeing up human agents to tackle more complex issues.

They can be designed to work in tandem with other support channels, such as email, phone, and live chat. This ensures a consistent brand voice and customer experience across all touchpoints, regardless of how the customers choose to interact with customer support.

To maximize the effectiveness of chatbots to manage customer interactions, consider the following best practices:

  • Prioritize user experience
  • Personalize interactions
  • Monitor performance and gather feedback
  • Integrate with existing systems.

Robotic process automation (RPA) for streamlined processes

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) involves the use of software robots to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. By delegating these tasks to RPA bots, businesses can significantly reduce the potential for human error and free up their workforce to focus on higher-value activities.

According to Gartner “around 80% of finance leaders have implemented or are planning to implement RPA.”

Automation is no longer an underground innovation but a global trend among financial organizations.

Key areas within finance and banking where RPA can make a notable impact include:

Account opening and KYC verification

RPA can expedite the account opening process by automating:

  • Data collection - bots can automatically extract customer data from submitted forms, eliminating manual data entry errors
  • Document verification - RPA compares scanned ID documents against predefined templates, quickly identifying discrepancies and confirming authenticity
  • Customer risk profiling - assisted customer risk profiling is possible by cross-referencing client information with global watchlists and credit databases, ensuring accurate assessment of potential risks.

These automations accelerate onboarding, ensuring a smooth experience for clients.

Fraud detection and prevention

Harnessing RPA's capabilities, financial institutions can effectively combat fraud by meticulously analyzing extensive transaction data in real-time. RPA bots scrutinize patterns and identify anomalies, such as sudden spikes in transaction amounts or multiple transactions from unfamiliar locations.

Promptly identifying and flagging suspicious activities allows organizations to take decisive action. Measures like freezing accounts or reversing transactions help safeguard customer assets and maintain a secure financial environment.

Loan processing and underwriting

RPA can streamline the loan application process by automating:

  • Data validation
  • Credit checks
  • Risk assessments

Bots can swiftly verify the accuracy of applicant information and perform comprehensive credit checks by cross-referencing multiple credit bureaus. Additionally, RPA efficiently evaluates risk factors, considering the applicant's financial history and current obligations. Loan approvals are expedited, leading to a more satisfying and seamless customer experience.

Regulatory compliance and reporting

In the face of an ever-changing regulatory environment, RPA stands as a powerful tool to simplify compliance management. Automating essential tasks like

  • Data gathering
  • Validation
  • Reporting,

RPA bots autonomously extract pertinent data from a variety of sources, minimizing human error risks. They also can cross-check the acquired information against regulatory criteria and rapidly produce detailed reports.

AI-powered analytics: fueling informed and proactive support

Leveraging AI analytics and machine learning, financial institutions can transform raw data into actionable insights, empowering confident, data-driven decisions. Predictive analytics can be their secret weapon in this endeavor.

AI-driven analytics provide the finance sector with valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing well-equipped support agents to proactively address customers’ needs. The generated insights can be utilized to implement the following tactics:

  • Identifying customer patterns and trends: Insights into your customers' preferences and behaviors help you tailor a support strategy to meet customers specific needs and pain points.
  • Detecting and mitigating potential issues before they escalate: Stay one step ahead by identifying potential pain points and addressing them before they turn into major problems.
  • Offering timely and relevant solutions: Data-driven insights allow you to provide your customers with the right solutions, right when they need them.
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction through personalized support: A tailored support experience that makes your customers feel valued and understood earns you their loyalty.
  • Anticipating customer needs based on historical data: Tap into past interactions to predict and cater to your customers' future requirements.
  • Improving support efficiency by prioritizing high-impact cases: Ensure the optimal distribution of your resources to high-priority issues, minimizing customer frustration with a swift resolution.
  • Utilizing performance metrics for continuous improvement: Support team's performance metrics help you to single out areas for growth and implement data-driven enhancements.
  • Proactively addressing queries and concerns: Reaching out to customers before they come to you demonstrates your commitment to their success and fosters long-lasting relationships.

Intelligent document processing

Financial processes rely heavily on the processing and analysis of large amounts of data, including invoices, receipts, transaction records, legal documents of any sort. They often come in unstructured form hard to process automatically (email, PDF files, typed and handwritten text, scanned documents).

Intelligent document processing (also called document AI) includes a suite of tools that can automate document processing tasks, such as:

  • Information extraction
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Text classification
  • Named entity recognition
  • Relationship extraction
  • Text summarization
  • Text similarity

These tools can be used for:

Invoice processing

With intelligent document processing, invoices can be scanned and automatically processed to extract relevant information. This information can then be transferred to accounting systems for payment processing and record-keeping.

Expense management

IDP helps extract expense data, such as date, vendor, and amount, from receipts automatically, and transfer the information to expense management systems.

Financial statement analysis

Automatically extract data from financial statements, such as balance sheets and income statements, to perform financial analysis and forecasting.

Loan processing

With IDP, the loan application process can be streamlined. AI document solutions can automatically capture and transfer data from loan applications which shortens the processing.

Compliance monitoring

IDP facilitates the financial services sector capturing data from regulatory reports and analyzing it to ensure compliance with financial regulations.

Fraud detection

Automatically analyze transaction data to identify potential fraudulent activity and generate alerts for further investigation.

Tackling the challenges of automating financial customer support

Implementing automation in financial customer support requires careful planning and execution to strike the right balance between efficiency and personalized assistance. The specific obstacles that may arise during the process of intelligent automation are:

  • Data security concerns
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Maintaining a human touch.

Maintaining data security and privacy

Make sure you implement robust security measures to protect against data breaches and ensure compliance with privacy regulations. Here are some practical steps to build a robust defense against potential breaches:

  • Encryption: End-to-end encryption for sensitive customer information and communications minimizes the risk of unauthorized access, keeping data secure in transit and at rest.
  • Access control: Limit access to customer data by granting permissions only to essential personnel. Regular audits can help detect any anomalies, ensuring airtight access management.
  • Compliance: Stay up-to-date with regulatory requirements such as GDPR and CCPA. Familiarize your team with these guidelines to ensure your automated systems adhere to the highest security standards.
  • Transparency: Inform customers about your security measures and privacy policies. Clear communication fosters trust and demonstrates your commitment to safeguarding their sensitive information.

Complying with regulatory requirements

Failure to comply can lead to fines, reputational damage, and loss of customer trust. Ensure your automated systems stay compliant:

  • Stay informed: Keep abreast of the latest regulatory updates and changes in financial industry standards, such as PSD2, MiFID II, and FATCA. Subscribe to industry newsletters and attend relevant webinars or conferences to stay informed.
  • Risk assessment: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential compliance gaps in your automated systems. Address these issues proactively to minimize exposure to regulatory penalties.
  • Train your team: Educate your customer support and IT teams on the importance of compliance. Provide comprehensive training on relevant regulations and their implications for automation initiatives.
  • Leverage expertise: Collaborate with legal and compliance experts to review your automated systems and ensure alignment with current regulations. Their insight can be invaluable in identifying potential risks and implementing best practices.

Balancing automation with the human touch

Finding the sweet spot between an automation solution's efficiency and personalized service is vital for a truly satisfying customer experience. Harmonize automation with human interaction to create a comprehensive and engaging support system for your customers:

  • Blend channels: Offer both automated and human support options, allowing customers to choose their preferred method of assistance. For example, chatbots can handle simple inquiries, while complex issues can be escalated to a live agent.
  • Empathetic design: Develop chatbot and automated email responses that convey empathy and understanding. Use natural language processing (NLP) to decode emotions in customer messages and craft responses that address their concerns effectively.
  • Monitor and learn: Continuously track customer interactions with automated systems, gathering insights to optimize their experience. Incorporate feedback loops to enhance your support solutions and maintain a human-centric approach.

The future of customer service in finance and banking

As automation technologies continue to evolve, their impact on customer support in the finance and banking sectors will only grow.

Financial institutions must embrace this change by expanding the scope of automation, collaborating with fintech innovators, and prioritizing customer satisfaction as the ultimate goal. This means continuously monitoring and measuring the impact of automation on customer experiences, soliciting feedback from customers, and iterating on support processes.

By doing so, they can stay ahead of the competition and deliver unparalleled support experiences to their customers.

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Kacper Rafalski

Kacper is an experienced digital marketing manager with core expertise built around search engine...
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