Mobile Banking Voice Assistant
May 06, 2021
7 MIN READ

Why Banks are Cashing in on Voice Assistants for a Secure Future

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.

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.

Increased accessibility

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.

Easier to navigate mobile app menus

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. 

Customer satisfaction

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.

Users connect with brands over multiple touchpoints so it’s important to meet them where they are with an omnichannel experience. 

Want to learn more? Houndify’s advanced voice AI allows banking customers to get the information they need simply, easily, securely, and as naturally as talking to a teller or customer service rep. Watch a demo of our custom voice assistant for mobile banking.

What makes voice banking successful?

What do financial leaders consider to be the top success metrics for voice assistants? 94% thought accuracy and speed, closely followed by resolution rate at 91%, and increased engagement at 88%. 

Accuracy & speed

Customer satisfaction and retention are entirely dependent on the voice assistant being accurate and fast. If the voice assistant is unable to understand the user, gives incorrect information, or takes too long, the customer simply won’t use it and will opt for other methods of interaction instead. When dealing with specific numbers and sensitive banking information, it is essential that customers are understood and responded to with exact information. Advances in speech technology have greatly improved accuracy and speed by precisely understanding simple and complex commands.

Customer satisfaction and retention are entirely dependent on the voice assistant being accurate and fast. 

Resolution rate

As the second most important success metric, the resolution rate shows not only how capable a voice assistant is but also the level of satisfaction it delivers. By completing tasks and successfully answering queries, the voice assistant helps improve customer satisfaction scores and creates brand loyalty and affinity.

Increased engagement

The voice assistant is a success if it increases the engagement of the app by making navigation, tasks, and queries easier. The more positive a customer’s experience, the more likely they are to continue to use the app or even recommend it to others. 

The future of voice-enabled banking

As technology continues to evolve and more data is collected, voice assistants will find more innovative ways to build upon the customer experience. According to the Opus Research survey, financial leaders consider consistent customer experiences, increased breadth of use cases, and expansion into multimodal experiences as the future of voice technology. Include the potential for monetization in voice assistants, and the possibilities are endless.

Financial leaders consider consistent customer experiences, increased breadth of use cases, and expansion into multi-modal experiences as the future of voice technology.

Monetization is key

Of the financial leaders in the Opus Research survey, 53% stated that monetization is very important as compared to other goals. Successful monetization relies on maintaining delightful user experiences without interrupting ads. By incorporating monetization into the customer experience, the voice assistant will be filling a need and subtly providing the customer value, increasing customer loyalty and the amount the customer uses the voice assistant. Monetization is also key to satisfying the need to show ROI on the voice AI investment. 

A case for more use cases

To deliver robust customer experiences, voice assistants must be able to perform a multitude of tasks so that users can rely on them for a variety of use cases. More use cases mean the customer will be able to interact with the voice assistant in more ways. Being able to achieve more tasks will lead to improved customer support, more convenience and speed, increased customer loyalty, and better operational efficiencies, which financial leaders considered the leading reasons for the business value of voice technology. 

Financial leaders have spoken about the end-user benefits, top reasons for voice implementation, top success metrics, and the future outlook for voice assistants in banking. Now, it’s up to other financial companies to decide whether they will continue to pave the way with custom voice assistants that open the door to more opportunities for monetization, omnichannel experiences, and brand identification. Voice assistants are becoming the future of banking and the key to creating a consistent, positive customer experience. Soon, financial institutions will be divided into two categories: those that have voice-enabled services and those that don’t. Which will you be?

Recently, Opus Research published a research report based on a global survey of 320 business leaders in 8 industries conducted to get the pulse of the state of voice assistant implementation and the trends toward custom voice AI solutions. You can read the report in its entirety and see the on-demand webinar to learn, “The Business Value of Customized Voice Assistants”.

If you’re looking for more detail on the future of voice assistants in banking, check out our infographic, Voice AI: Improving Customer Support in Financial Services.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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