My money matters

As a student, internet banking plays a very important part of everyday life. It generally enables me to keep a tab on my finances, and manage my own money without having to go into a branch. While I do tend to find websites fairly easy to navigate, more times than not when I have a problem it results in having to make a trip into a branch or a telephone call that ultimately I may not have the time or patience for.

The FAQ section of my own bank’s website is limited and frankly frustrating. A prime example of these restrictions occurred recently, when I was awaiting payment clearance on my account. I asked the help section ‘Which payments are waiting to clear on my account?’ a simple enough question which I posed in deliberately obvious language. My ‘Best Answers’ results were absolutely useless, completely unrelated, one of which directed me to an article entitled ‘Why consider diversifying your agricultural business?’. Whilst laughable in hindsight, at the time it was exceptionally frustrating and only added to existing anxiety about said payments.

After rephrasing my query several times, I was ultimately forced to make a phone call for a relatively simple query, where I had to wait in a call line, answer security questions which I had already completed online, and resolve my issue this way.

A more intelligent assistant is a complete necessity to ensure queries like this can be solved quickly and easily, and particularly one with Natural Language Interaction (NLI) capabilities. After posing my own question several times, it quickly became apparent that a Virtual Assistant (VA) which harnessed the powers of NLI would be able to recognise my query and respond sensitively and intelligently, rather than just throwing out what appear to be random responses to a misunderstood query.

Furthermore, a VA which remembers I have asked about this aspect of my finances before, and realises that this is a concern of mine, and therefore gives reminders about this in the future would be an even greater step in making me, as a customer, feel cared about.

This idea that I can be proactively offered information by a bank’s VA, leads me to another demand I have as a student and find frustrating in current ‘NLI-less’ systems. The major limitation of having a standard website and standard adverts or promotions adorning its pages, is that it is not personalised for me. My suggestion to consider ‘diversifying my agricultural business’ did not suddenly spark in me an incessant urge to throw down the shackles of institution and take up the simple life as a dairy farmer, instead it frankly annoyed me.

An NLI system integrated into bank apps or websites, for example, with a memory of what interests me, my spending, (and I hasten to add) saving habits and therefore can proactively offer me deals, or suggest accounts more suited to myself as a customer, would enhance my experience a lot.

A sense that my bank account is tailored to me, and I am not being offered the standard would certainly build my confidence and trust with my bank, particularly as a student with a very niche set of demands. When I know my bank is working as hard as I am to better my finances, I am much more likely to remain a happy customer.

Of course, the usefulness of a VA would be extremely stunted unless it functions across a variety of platforms. While I perform the bulk of my account management on my laptop at home, I want to be able to make decisions and access my accounts and their history on the go, via a range of mobile devices. Whether that is on my phone when I am out and about, and want to double check on payments going in and out before making a purchase, or whether that is on Mum’s tablet when I am at home for the weekend and I want to check out how some of myISA’s are doing.

Without a memory that is transferable across a range of technologies, with every device guiding the customer through the experience or service whatever their channel of choice, a VA is not fulfilling its duty as a customer aid, and not moving with the times either.

From recent experiences with my bank, it has become obvious there is a massive gap between consumer and company which needs improvement, primarily through better assistance not only for students such as me, but for all who bank. It is becoming a necessity that banks push towards technology which cares for its customers.

Also, the automated services they choose must offer unique technology which is compatible across a range of platforms and have an extensive memory to make the customer experience as unique and beneficial as possible.

I would like the services I use as a student to enrich my life by helping me achieve my financial goals, and therefore opening up opportunities, and most importantly it must ultimately give me what I want; something only possible through NLI.

Andy, who lives with his family in the UK, is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions. A regular speaker at industry conferences and events, Andy delivers insight on the rise of AI, the challenges businesses face and the future of intelligent conversational applications.

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