Competing with robo-investors: putting the EI in AI

Larry Augustin, CEO at SugarCRM

11 September 2018

Artificial Intelligence is advancing at an exponential rate across the globe. In the UK, a Government Industrial Strategy is now in place to ensure its success and China’s government has recently revealed a plan committing the country to becoming the world’s dominant player in AI by 2030. Earlier this month, the Bank of England’s chief economist predicted a disruptive fallout from the rise in AI, suggesting there will be widespread job losses and societal changes in the years to come.

It’s fair to say that almost every industry has been touched by the AI revolution, from retailers who are using the technology to personalise the customer experience, to healthcare providers using it to predict and prevent disease. 

The finance industry is no exception, with the technology being used to support areas such as fraud detection and management, credit card and loan risk assessments, and financial advisory roles, to name just a few.

Benefits of AI

The financial industry is facing increased pressure in determining the role they really want AI to fulfil and how it impacts the competitive landscapes; asset management firms are increasingly finding themselves up against robo-investors, for example. But in order to provide a cost-effective service that offers a superior customer experience, humans and AI must work together. While AI offers many advantages, there is still one thing missing from this new technology – emotional intelligence (or EI). Where you might pay less for a fully automated interaction, the justification for paying more for the human touchpoint is the real value in the emotional intelligence, something that computers can’t really provide… yet.

When it comes to the customer experience, there are many tasks that AI is suited to. As much as 98 per cent of all customer interactions are simple queries and bots can be used to monitor and streamline these engagements. For example, RBS’s chatbot ‘Luvo’ has the ability to respond to basic customer queries; and can therefore reduce the need for as many customer service employees. That’s what makes AI such an asset, the ability to learn and automate ordinary tasks, and free up human employees to add value elsewhere in the business.

Value of human interaction

While no one can deny AI is having an enormous effect on the finance industry, there are still limitations to the technology, especially in terms of its ability to react to emotional cues. Your customer’s emotions are an extremely important part of a business relationship, and the ability to read and comprehend these signals plays a huge part in tailoring the customer experience. 

Chatbots can’t easily detect a shift in tone or tension in a conversation and aren’t able to quickly appease a customer, and this is where the emotional intelligence is needed. For example, while a robo-advisor is great for an inexpensive and basic service, the issue comes when you have a more challenging or unique financial situation. A human advisor is best served here as they have the ability to account for personal needs or complex and sensitive circumstances, for example debt or divorce. . This is where human employees are still required, to maintain customer relationships and avoid frustrating customers – or causing them to take their business elsewhere.

Need for collaboration

So, even as technology advances, AI isn’t going to take over from humans completely. Collaboration is key here, and the future workforce will see humans and technology working together to provide a superior customer service.

In the finance sector we’re already seeing the use of bionic advisories which combine machine calculations and human insight to provide a more efficient and comprehensive analysis, whilst also still maintaining the superior customer service clients have come to expect from their financial advisor.

As businesses seek to build authentic business relationships, AI can inform and guide employees in the process. With thousands of contacts on a database, there’s no way a salesperson or advisor can remember what stage each customer interaction is at and build strong relationships with all of them. This is where Relationship Intelligence technology can support – it uses AI to provide insights into who your prospects are, which ones are most beneficial to pursue and when is the right time to get in touch. It can instantly make available information and data from all over the internet about any potential prospect from just a name and email address.

Businesses should also look to embrace the technology as a first port of call for customers. Chatbots can be used to streamline the experience and filter customers to ensure they are put through to the most suitable team member for their seniority and personality.

Ultimately, success in business is all about building and maintaining relationships, and technology won’t have the ability to build these vital connections anytime soon. What it can do however is support human teams in developing these strong relationships, providing intel on customers and prospects in order to better target and engage with them. Rather than treating technology as a threat, the successful workforce of the future will instead harness the insights and efficiencies that AI can offer in order to allow teams to build better relationships and ultimately grow their business. 

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