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Banks Can Transform Customer Experience Through AI, Accenture Survey

In the next stage of artificial intelligence adoption, banks will use AI to help understand the intentions and emotions of customers and enable better interactions, according to a new report from Accenture.

The report, Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017, draws on the analysis of an advisory board of more than two dozen individuals, interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, and results of a survey of more than 600 bankers.

According to the report, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of bankers globally and 87 percent in India believe that AI will enable simpler user interfaces that will help banks create a more human-like customer experience. In addition, four out of five global respondents (79) percent and almost nine out of ten (87 percent) of bankers in India believe that AI will revolutionize the way banks gather information and interact with customers, and three-quarters (76 percent globally) and 83 percent in India believe that within three years, banks will deploy AI as their primary method for interacting with customers.

Indian banks are embracing digital solutions for interacting with customers; the next step is implementing the enabling power of artificial intelligence (AI), such as identifying consumer preferences and then reacting with insight and emotional intelligence,” says Piyush Singh, managing director and head of Accenture Financial Services group in India “In addition to gaining insights, banks could transform customer experience and improve operational efficiency. However, the challenge will be how quickly banks can implement these new technologies as banks continue to face legacy issues with their existing IT setup. This would require a C-suite-led impetus to embrace new technologies.”

The theme of this year’s report, “Technology for People,” is a call to action for bank executives to design technology to help align their products and services with what consumers want in near real-time. In traditional banks, basic transactions continue to migrate from physical to digital channels, leading to major changes as banks redesign their branch networks and enhance their digital footprint. Four out of five bankers surveyed (80 percent) globally, as well as India, expect AI to accelerate technology adoption throughout the organisation, providing their employees with the tools and resources to better serve consumers.

As with previous Technology Vision reports, Technology Vision 2017 is structured around key trends informed by the research.  The five trends identified in Technology Vision 2017 are: “AI Is the New UI (Experience Above All),” “Ecosystem Power Plays (Beyond Platforms),” “Workforce Marketplace (Invent Your Future),” “Design for Humans (Inspire New Behaviors)” and “The Unchartered (Invent New Industries, Set New Standards).”

The “Design for Humans” trend indicates that the key to increasing the quality of customer experience lies in the ability to adapt to unique customer behaviours. The report finds that while the human contact is diminishing in terms of volume, the quality and importance of human touch points will increase. For instance, one-third (34 percent) of the bankers surveyed globally and almost similar number in India (33 percent) said they plan to use a detailed understanding of human behaviour to guide new customer experiences. And while nearly nine in 10 bankers (89 percent) said they believe that their customers are satisfied with their bank’s use of personalization, two-thirds (67 percent) globally and in India claim they struggle to understand their customers’ needs and goals.

As reported in the “Ecosystem Power Plays” trend, banks are increasingly integrating their core functions with digital ecosystem platforms in an effort to manage more broad-based consumer relationships. Nearly all bankers surveyed (98 percent) said they believe that it is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ critical to adopt a platform-based business model and engage in ecosystems with digital partners, with one-quarter (25 percent) of global respondents and 40 percent of India respondents saying their organizations are already taking aggressive steps to participate in ecosystems.

Many banks are already giving authorised third-parties access to account data and aggregated card profiles to benefit customers. Banks recognise that it is critical to participate in these ecosystems, but it comes at a cost. Three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents globally and four out of five (80 percent) in India said that participating in these ecosystems would require giving up control in favor of an overall better outcome — such as speed, agility and access to new customers — and that same number believe that chosen partners and ecosystems will help determine their bank’s competitive advantage moving forward.

Sidharth Shekhar: