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Meeting the Moment: Conversational AI and the Digital Banking Experience

The financial services industry is evolving; driven by advances in technology, customer demand for ubiquitous digital banking services, COVID-19 and related commercial pressures, and a general sense that the traditional banking model needs to be modernized, fueled by consumer expectations and operational challenges.

It’s especially important to understand and recognize that digital adoption is the driving force behind the acceleration of digital transformation. This may seem like an obvious statement, but historically the financial services industry focused digital transformation priorities around market regulations, back-office processes and other operational functions. 2020 and customer demand has put rich digital experience front and center. 

Recently Kasisto’s CEO & Co-Founder, Zor Gorelov sat down with Doug Brown, VP and GM of NCR Digital Banking to discuss the digital transformation taking place within the financial services industry and the nexus of digital banking and conversational AI. 

What’s happening in the industry from your perspective? And what’s driving customers to get serious about digital?

Doug: 

Digital transformation has been underway in a meaningful way across the industry for sometime, but COVID-19 really accelerated it. Many banks and credit unions have embraced the idea of customer driven transformation and recognize that in order to successfully meet this they need to be agile and respond to most any situation. 

Zor:

In a number of conversations we have had with technology executives across the industry, we are hearing them talk about how the pandemic showed them that they were digital at the edge but not digital at the core. Meaning when the human process broke down, many banks didn’t have the infrastructure or technology  in place to support this transition. Sure they all have  online ad mobile banking capabilities, but digitization needed at the core of their business, to quickly automate service requests and intelligently answer  customer inquiries just didn’t exist. This often resulted in poor customer experiences and abnormally long call center wait times. 

Doug:

Great point, many banking customers experienced using digital capabilities for the first time during the pandemic. For example, our customers saw the use of Zelle go up nearly 300%. For many banking customers, this was their first time learning about and using a feature  like Zelle. These ways of servicing the customer must be supported and this is where the idea of humanizing the experience becomes so critical. The use of an intelligent virtual assistant can help customers understand what the capability is while offering them the opportunity to ask questions and provide guidance. It can also service the entire customer journey, from inquiries through the virtual assistant, to intelligent call center handoff where the agent knows everything they need to know about the customer’s request, before they even get connected with the customer, helping to reduce call handling times and making the agents more efficient. This is a good example of being digital from the edge, right to the core of the customer banking experience.

Large national and global banks often have this technology, creating an unfair advantage — especially when they move into local markets. That makes it hard for smaller banks and/or credit unions to compete. What are your thoughts?

Doug:

Together, NCR and Kasisto, we are able to help our customers build and achieve differentiation. That is the centerpoint of our partnership. Our mission is to help our customers self-service, to manage and maintain their operations, while leveraging the best technology has to offer and providing them access to products and solutions that allow them to compete at every level. 

Zor:

Many of our customers talk about the idea of ‘lifestyle’ banking. Making banking more ambiguous and more embedded into people’s lives is what brings differentiation. Our ability to offer this to NCR’s customers is all about how we built our platform, KAI and the pre-integration with NCR’s digital platform. We have invested in tools that allow the KAI platform to be branded and customized to fit each bank’s unique digital experience without them having to hire an army of AI engineers and data scientists. 

Doug: 

It’s all about control, customizability and differentiation. We have come together with Kasisto based on the understanding that our solutions are not offered separately, but instead are experienced together. Our integration is crucial to our ability to offer these sophisticated technologies. Once we have completed integrating our products, NCR customers of all sizes will have access to a digital experience that will allow them to compete at any level, while really delighting their banking customers with the best imaginable digital experience possible.

 What are some closing thoughts that you would like to share with our readers

Zor: 

You don’t need to be the biggest bank or have a huge IT budget to be successful in offering a differentiated intelligent conversational banking experience to your customers. The importance of out-of-the-box solutions, like KAI, and our partnership with NCR brings immediate impact to the organization and consumer –  fast time to market, ease of deployment and, most importantly, great customer experience on day one.  

Doug:

We have collective wisdom, through NCR’s reach and Kasisto’s expertise within servicing the financial customer, that is not only comparable to what the big institutions are offering but is in fact more agile, customizable and scalable.