Virtual Sales Assistants in Banking: Why Front Office Banking Needs a Rethink

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Like all new technologies, CRM tools have evolved since the early days of bespoke customer management systems. However, despite this innovation, the truth is that they still face a mountain of over-inflated expectations and nowhere is this more true than in the banking sector. The nature of the market, the level of competition and the need for exceptional (and compliant) customer service, has left banks with an impossible choice: serve the top customers in a personalised way and ignore the smaller customers, or serve everyone with a “cookie-cutter” or one size fits all approach. As Celent, a division of Oliver Wyman, wrote “[in banking] the front office needs a rethink”.

Virtual Sales Assistants in Banking: From a CRM to a CIM.

As the smart virtual assistant technology matures, it enables banks to rethink not only their approach to the customer, but also of what tools they should be using. With a smart virtual assistant or a whispering agent (technology that guides sales people in real time to help them sell), a bank can offer every customer a service that is 100% personalised. To paraphrase a certain 1970s hit TV show, ‘you have the data, you have the technology, you can make it, better, faster, stronger’ (apologies to both the Six Million Dollar Man and anyone who has no idea what I’m referring to). However, the point still stands, if you rethink the CRM to see it as a powerful data repository, with the right technology it can become a Customer Interaction Management (CIM) tool, allowing banks to offer expert and 100% personalized advice via chat bot, on the phone and face to face (where a banker is guided by a tablet). This isn’t science fiction; leading companies are already implementing this technology, the question is which banks will be the laggards and which will be the winners.

Virtual Sales Assistants in Banking: CIM in Retail Banking

Retail banks face unique problems. Their client base is varied: from retired people who are reluctant to use the internet or new technology to millennials who are reluctant to speak in person or even on the phone. With this diverse clientele, also come widely different needs, but most banks still try and sell the same products to everyone. Multichannel CIM is key. Banks must be able to offer personalised guidance on the clients’ channel of choice and they must be able to jump seamlessly between the channels, for example from chat to phone. From Whispering Agents to augmented customer service and sales, new technology is already helping retail banks address these challenges.

Virtual Sales Assistants in Banking: CIM in Private Banking

By definition, in private banking, customers expect a personalized and tailor-made service. However, private banks are under pressure to accept more clients, who in turn expect a personalized service. So how can private banks meet these seemingly contradictory challenges? Again the solution of transitioning to a CIM approach makes sense. By leveraging the data that they hold on customers, private banks can ensure they continue to deliver a 1-1 customer service no matter how large their client pool becomes.

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