4 Opportunities for AI

Across the financial industry there has been a shift towards greater data consumption and digital transformation, accelerated further by the global coronavirus pandemic. As a result, artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging in the form of operational tools to help manage and organize vast amounts of available data, as well as directly communicate with consumers. Technology is developing to help manage thousands of calls every second and reduce wait times to zero. Data intelligence is helping to facilitate immediate customer satisfaction with instant communication.

Lenders are anticipating growth, particularly in the subprime market, as the economy continues to recover, and are seeking ways to enhance and streamline processes digitally. This will be critical as lenders face operational and regulatory challenges that demand efficiency, accuracy, and compliance.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Types Defined

Artificial intelligence is the development and deployment of systems that can perform human tasks such as decision-making, predicting outcomes, assessing efficiencies, and automating adaptions. AI tools offer automation options that help operationally process data while providing new ways to communicate directly with customers. Lenders benefit from an enhanced call center experience and a more automated process for consumers with direct interactions.

Leveraging virtual assistant tools allows organizations to:

  • Be available to answer questions 24/7, having zero call center wait time which only enhances the brand experience
  • Set scheduled appointment times
  • Make product recommendations at the consumer’s convenience which can help drive revenue
  • Provide self-service actions for consumers which helps lead to expense reductions on the balance sheet

Conversational artificial intelligence (CAI) technology focuses on automated messaging and speech-enabled applications. An online personal assistant of sorts, this computer speaks to you. Think about your current call center experience, as an example. Conversational artificial intelligence can enhance communication, streamline operations, and provide a return on investment with enhanced efficiencies.

CAI is being used widely across industries to provide personalized, data-driven solutions in the following areas:

  • Customer communication and follow-up
  • Customer support/call centers
  • Marketing messaging
  • Operation automation
  • Predictability and analytics
  • Sales and lead generation
  • Collections

Enhancing and/or automating aspects of the data management process can help institutions manage an accumulating backlog of collections, recoveries, and cancellations due to current economic relief practices. Payment deferrals, forbearance programs, extensions, modifications, and more have resulted in disruption in the form of halted operations or altered processes that are only now starting to return to pre-pandemic status. AI technologies can answer what consumers need to do next, give specific details, appropriate follow-up next steps, and provide automated texts to help drive conversion.

Call centers, in particular, saw an influx of calls in 2020, which increased operational costs and extended wait times for consumers. AI technologies present an opportunity to implement automation that can quickly communicate, prompt certain consumer actions, help reduce costs, and even automatically follow-up.

1. Establishing a Comprehensive Risk and Retention Strategy

Proactive risk management is becoming critically important for lending institutions as they prepare and adapt to the changing needs of consumers and protect their loan portfolios. Leveraging AI tools, such as robotics processing automation (RPA) or intelligent virtual assistants (IVA), can help enrich existing data and process updates in close to real time so institutions can provide optimal service to their consumers and reallocate human resources where needed. But keep in mind, automation is only one step, having the conversational piece is a critical next step.

2. Handling Vast Amounts of Data

As information is digitized, more opportunities exist to gather and leverage data. Data is an important tool to identify strengths and weaknesses within a lender’s risk strategy and portfolio. AI tools can help institutions better understand their risk exposure, verify loan information, track changes in information, or even predict future consumer behaviors by monitoring different data variables. Virtual assistants can be leveraged to automatically take calls and provide self-service options for consumers. In handling vast amounts of data, AI tools can learn and adapt, which helps consumers quickly get the answers they need, facilitating a positive interaction and user experience.

3. Meeting Consumer Expectations

Consumer expectations are shifting. As digital tools emerge and more consumers leverage online resources for services and purchases, the expectation for personalization is growing. Consumers are used to targeted advertising, personalized messaging, and sharing their private data with third parties as an access requirement. AI tools help gather, sift, and direct this data to help identify consumers’ needs. For financial institutions, this could mean specific information related to current loans, future business opportunities, and tracking ongoing behaviors with interactive chat functionalities and optimized web tools. By providing automation for these processes, lenders can reduce wait times and provide consumers easy access to their questions and service needs.

4. Utilizing Emerging Technologies

Technological resources continue to emerge to support growing industry needs. AI-driven technologies have helped improve process efficiencies and the customer experience. This ‘intelligence’ software is being built to address challenges, improve efficiencies, help scale growing services, and sift through increasing data sources. By assessing current challenges and business needs, financial institutions have opportunities to utilize new intelligence software or partner with vendors to leverage and organize data or increase efficiencies by allowing robotics help run manual service processes.

If a technology exists that can easily handle 15,000 calls per second, why would you ever ask your consumers to wait again? Phone trees or voice responses can lead to wait times and be frustrating and damaging to your brand. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. With the introduction and adoption of artificial intelligence, opportunities are emerging to help financial institutions serve their consumers, protect their portfolios, and prompt new growth opportunities.

Final Takeaway: The industry will only continue to see the implementation of virtual assistants, 24/7 customer service, and other service automations that can quickly and seamlessly integrate with existing processes. Make sure your organization is intentionally thinking about your consumer and invest in ways that can strategically enhance your customer experience.

With over three decades of diverse experience in the financial services Charlie Peterson has supported over 1000 clients in nineteen states providing 'best in class' insurance, income, loss mitigation and technology efficiencies to the credit union marketplace. His passion and drive in lending growth, loan participation, client consultation and digital channel development have been his hallmarks. In his current role with Allied Solutions, Charlie is helping credit unions nationwide successfully execute on their visions and plans for growth. Email Charlie at [email protected].