What started as smart speakers and mobile voice interfaces has evolved into voice assistants for cars, call centers, mobile apps, and IoT products. According to Statista, there are currently 57 million mobile banking users in the U.S. These customers will soon demand the same conveniences of voice-assisted interactions with their bank as with other apps. Further, omnichannel voice experiences are already defining customer service for several leading financial companies. U.S. Bank and Bank of America have created custom voice assistants for their mobile banking apps that help with everything from transferring money to bill reminders—as if you’re interacting with a human bank teller. These endeavors are paying off as Bank of America’s voice assistant Erica gained over a million users only two months after being rolled out.
A recent survey by Opus Research interviewed financial leaders from JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Bank of America, Capital One, and others on everything about voice assistants in banking—from leading drivers of business value to top success metrics. The data and anecdotal comments surfaced actionable insights for financial institutions and some predictions for the future of voice-enabled banking.
How voice assistants improve banking
The Opus Research survey of financial leaders across the globe identified the top end-user benefits of voice assistants as increased accessibility, better customer experience, easier to navigate menus, faster search, and customer satisfaction. Let’s take a deeper dive into these success metrics to find out how voice assistants are elevating the customer experience for top financial institutions.
In a world where convenience is expected, hands-free access is an important end-user benefit. Whether it’s because the user is driving, cooking, multi-tasking, or simply wants to save time typing and swiping, a hands-free option improves the customer experience through convenience and ease of use.
Better customer experience
By offering a voice interface and making it easier to navigate menus, search faster, and interact with a virtual bank teller, voice assistants in mobile banking are improving the customer experience. In addition, the restrictions of visiting in-person branches due to COVID-19 this past year have made mobile banking and call centers increasingly relevant options for many customers. Interacting with a custom voice assistant equipped with custom domains and custom commands gives customers better, faster, and more accurate banking experiences while delivering greater efficiencies for banks.
By offering a voice interface and making it easier to navigate menus, search faster, and interact with a virtual bank teller, voice assistants in mobile banking are improving the customer experience.
Voice assistants can provide information in seconds that would otherwise take a series of actions to access. For example, it would take over five clicks to find an account routing number and minutes to transfer money from one account to another. With the help of a voice assistant, these tasks can be performed in seconds, giving back valuable time to the user and making it as natural as interacting with a human bank teller.
In an interview with Voicebot, Ankit Bhatt, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer for Consumer at U.S. Bank, said, “I believe voice is a more effective medium than touch. It’s certainly faster. People can type 40 words per minute, but they can speak at about 130 words per minute.” In an increasingly voice-enabled world, voice assistants are a fast, accessible solution to customer interactions.
A happy customer is a returning customer, a recommending customer, and potentially, a brand evangelist. By using a voice assistant, a brand can improve customer satisfaction by turning tasks and queries into fast, pleasant interactions, and even more—delivering immediate answers, limiting wait times, and giving anywhere, anytime access.
Why banks should have custom voice assistants
Despite the implementation challenges, such as concerns about privacy laws and quick start and rapid deployment via a third party, it’s worth the commitment of resources and innovation to have a custom voice assistant. The Opus Research survey stated that consistent brand experience, convenience for customers, and accessibility were the top 3 reasons for the rapid implementation of voice assistants in the financial services industry. While partnering with third-party platform providers with their own voice assistants may be faster than creating a custom voice assistant, controlling your brand, owning the data, and creating an omnichannel experience are not possible without a brand-owned voice solution.
Building a consistent brand experience
Implementing a custom voice assistant is the most direct path to a consistent brand experience. When partnering with third-party platform providers, customers interact with another brand, not yours. Conversely, a custom voice assistant with a branded wake word quickly connects users with your brand and creates a consistent customer experience. Personalization through custom voice, tone, and language also extends the brand and communicates the company’s values. Just as a company creates a style guide with specific colors, fonts, and tones, a voice persona can be created for the voice assistant to embody the brand—which will lead to greater brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Owning the data
According to the Opus Research survey, 59% of top financial leaders consider security, data privacy, and consumer trust to be the top business challenges for voice assistants. With security as a top priority in the financial industry, custom voice assistants allow businesses to control the user experience while retaining valuable and sensitive data. Collecting only aggregated data, companies can analyze the customer experience, understand what’s working, what’s not, and what can be improved through iterations to continually evolve the voice experience for users—while maintaining high levels of security and privacy.
Houndify Financial Services Infographic
Creating an omnichannel experience
The Opus Research survey discovered that voice assistants are deployed in the banking sector 100% of the time in mobile apps, 48% in contact centers, and 33% in smart speakers. Users connect with brands over multiple touchpoints, so it’s important to meet them where they are with an omnichannel experience. In fact, according to the same survey, 52% of customers use a variety of channels to interact with banks. By voice-enabling multiple channels with the same assistant, deeper customer connections are developed.