Sunday, 22 July 2018

Information and commentary for the small business banking industry

Bank ChatBots: you must have one, or a waste of time?

22 May

It is well known that a lot of banks are looking at ChatBots and the opportunity they present. Barclays, Societe Generale, USAA, BBVA, and Capital One have begun actively experimenting with them. Bank of America has said it will roll out a ChatBot named “Erica” this year. As she demoed Erica at Money 2020 this year, Michelle Moore, the bank’s head of digital banking, said it will be “the trusted adviser to our 45 million households.” This gives some indication of how seriously banks are taking this opportunity and the potential reach.

A recent study by Accenture indicates that within the next three years, banks will deploy ChatBot type Artificial Intelligence as their primary method to interact with customers.

But do you need one?

In my view there are two types of ChatBot;

  • First transactional, where customers will want to use Messenger to ask to check balances and to pay bills. No longer do they need to login to online banking. This is coming to all banks eventually. But it’s hard as the security and risk elements need secure back end systems. Smaller banks especially will find the cost prohibitive in the short term until costs drop. As they will.
  • Second advisory, where customers will want to know the latest loan interest rates, the best type of savings account, if they qualify for a loan and how to forecast cash flow and write a business plan. This is much easier to do almost immediately. It’s inexpensive and you can be piloting a ChatBot in a few months.

So the answer is yes.

Plan to adopt the transactional technology when it’s proven and cheaper.

Plan to start piloting advisory ChatBots now. Especially as most people don’t really like talking to a live person when they are searching for information. They are worried they may be sold to, or it takes too long. Web searches are also increasingly frustrating, where you get multiple results and hardly ever the right link. An advisory ChatBot is the answer; fast, to the point and then you can decide to talk to a human.

Finally where do you get one? You can build your own of course, or engage an agency. But remember it’s not the Bot technology that is unique (there are thousands), it’s knowing what small businesses need and want to know, matched to their pain points, then linked to product. Scripting the customer journey/conversation responses and getting users as fast as possible to what they want is the key. Rather than a long chat you could have with a live person.



PS Here’s a link to the Accenture report:


Glen Senior
Glen is the founder and CEO of The Small Business Company, a New Zealand based agency that specialises in helping banks communicate with small businesses through content marketing. He has written a number of books on small business principles and is a sought after consultant and conference presenter.

« »