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While COVID-19 has catalysed financial services organisations to harness Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve customer experience (CX), challenges in integration and customer perceptions are undermining its potential. Financial services firms’ implementation of AI at scale is the lowest across all industries, and where AI has been deployed, customer expectations are not being met – with half of customers saying they receive no value from AI-enabled interactions.

This is according to a report published today by the Capgemini Research Institute entitled, “Smart Money: How to drive AI at scale to transform the financial services customer experience”.

The deployment of AI to improve the overall CX has grown significantly in the financial services industry in the past three years. Just over half of customers (51%) have daily AI-enabled interactions (like talking to a chatbot) with banking and insurance firms; this becomes even more important as most customers (78%) expect to increase touchless interactions as the COVID-19 crisis prolongs. Financial services firms have already perceived the positive impact on their bottom-line of implementing AI in customer-facing functions, including reduced cost of operations (13%) and increased revenue per customer (10%).

Financial services firms are looking to AI to improve customer experience, but customers are not seeing the benefits

For financial services firms, meeting customer expectations is business critical, with 94% of organizations saying that improving CX is the key objective behind launching new AI-enabled initiatives. However, a clear disconnect is emerging as customer expectations are not being met. Almost half (49%) of consumers rate the value they derive from AI-enabled digital touchpoints as non-existent or less than expected. Customers are increasingly looking for a more human experience when interacting with AI-powered chatbots, and 35% say that their current interactions lack the human touch.

COVID-19-driven changes in customer behaviours offer a unique opportunity for banks and insurers to accelerate AI deployment. Customer interactions with AI are directly or indirectly spread over multiple channels throughout the financial services value chain.

  • A majority (78%) of consumers expect to use touchless interactions more, through voice assistants, facial recognition or apps – compared to just 61% pre COVID-19.
  • Close to half (45%) of customers will increase their use of contactless payments during the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 is also prompting a major behavior shift by older consumers as contactless payments adoption has grown by 37% in the 61–65-year age group, and a 33% increase with those over 66.

Ability to scale AI is a significant challenge

While the organizational benefits that banks and insurers can realize by using AI in better engaging with their customers are the highest across industry sectors, financial services firms have the lowest scaled implementation across all industries. Only 5% of banks and 6% of insurers have been able to deploy AI at scale across several touchpoint functions. The biggest challenge is leadership and organizational resistance driven by anxieties about the need for new skills and job loss fears (reported by 52% of banking and 53% of insurance). Difficulty in identifying the right use cases to scale, long gestation periods for implementation and lack of trust for high-priced interactions also are barriers for adoption.

While traditional players are struggling with AI implementation at scale, it is a different scenario for new-age players like FinTechs. Not bound by the same challenges as traditional legacy financial services firms, FinTechs are succeeding in delivering superior value to customers by using AI-driven solutions to make financial services tasks more efficient and customers interactions friendlier.

Financial benefits to organisations are clear

Even with the lower rate of AI implementation compared to other industries, financial services firms have realized significant benefits. They have reduced their cost of operations by 13% and have increased revenue per customer by 10% after deploying AI in customer-facing functions. AI has also helped deliver improvements in customer satisfaction. Banks and insurers have witnessed greater customer engagement with brands from deploying customer AI. Around one in five industry firms (25% for banks and 19% for insurers) have seen a 20–40% increase in customer engagement.

Financial services firms have much to gain from implementing AI in their customer interactions, but there are steps to be taken before the benefits are fully realized for businesses and consumers alike,” said Anirban Bose, CEO of Capgemini’s Financial Services and Group Executive Board member. “Organizations need to focus on educating their customers and staff on what AI can do for them. It will take both investment and consumer trust to make the most of this powerful technology. To deliver the right AI-powered experience centred around the consumer, banking and insurance firms must ensure they have senior leadership roles in charge of internal and external AI adoption and acceleration.”

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