In Part 1 of this article series which you can read here, I mentioned how an organisation or brand makes the customer feel is central to their long-term relationship.

In that sense, each interaction should be seen and designed as a conversation. Financial institutions should invest to ensure that digital touch points are designed as conversations – real and human. Which means banking digital transformation needs not just technology, but a design which can infuse human feeling in clicks and bring conversational warmth to every interaction.

Designing the organisational voice and role of the AI 

In the branch and people led banking, every bank had a voice and a unique human touch. This enabled a customer to distinguish, and bond with the bank. In the same way, central to humanising digital interactions is a ‘voice’, both in the literal and figurative sense. A voice that customers can relate with, and one that can be used to weave conversations across digital interfaces, social messages, automated teller machines and live agents. This goes a long way to establish the feeling that there is a real human behind every interface and social message. To the customer, it communicates warmth, builds trust and makes the institution approachable.

Soon Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in bridging this gap between the digital and human, and can be trusted to bring human tonality to each organisation’s digital ‘voice’. In that sense, chat bots will need to be much more than new-age emails. Chatbot conversations should be designed to respond to human fallacy and feelings. 

Today most chat bots are deployed as functional forms and do not really provision for human conversation. The focus needs to now evolve and expand to include emotions, feelings and building conversation layers that engage in some depth. Chat bots, as the name itself indicates, are less about drag and drop features and more about designing human engagements and responding to human curiosity and interests. The way communication unfolds shapes the understanding and confidence of people, while also influencing their feelings and future actions. 

Putting people at the centre and humanism in the system

In a country like India, a good number of customers are still uncomfortable with the process of opening a new account with a chat bot or online form. A voice-led journey, video-based chat or the ability to call an agent from live chat brings a personal reassurance. These are not elements to be plugged in and plugged out. On the other hand, these should be bricks with which financial organisations fundamentally design their content and user engagements.

Or like in the branch-led banking relationship, a broad conversation base approach should be adopted. This can be enabled by AI and should be leveraged to map the customer’s current financial state, future financial plans and desires. This will enable banks and financial organisations to design personalized financial solutions that align with customers’ life-goals and aspirations.

The future demands that business-as-usual cannot continue, and organisations have to look beyond just serving customers and maximizing profit.  To build a sustainable business, organisations need to scope for giving back to people and society.

For a start, designing transactions as humanized interactions and additionally, provisioning for conversations, privacy, safety, integrity and occasional emotional ennui is a way to give back to society. This will earn businesses trust, spread the feel-good with word-of-month and also inspire pride in their employees. 

Financial institutions that are looking to bloom in future, should evolve from designing financial products to offering solutions that fit customer life goals. As the pandemic rages on, customers are increasingly becoming demanding and getting primed for remote and AI-enabled experiences – reassurance of human warmth, trust and a warm human voice.

Also read Part 1 of this article.

Published on 30 March 2022.

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