When you think of automation and AI, images of homogenous and impersonal robots probably come to mind. However, these tools offer vast potential for banks to provide the enriching, humanized experiences customers have come to expect.

In partnership with American Banker, Monigle released the Humanizing Brand Experience: Financial Services, Vol 3 report, based on a survey of 5,500 bank customers in the U.S.. The report examines five drivers impacting customer experience across emotional, intellectual, sensorial, and behavioral attributes.

Customers were asked to rank how important a series of attributes across these four categories are to them when it comes to choosing and interacting with a financial institution. The results depict a demand for more human-centric experiences.

What does “more human” mean in an era dominated by AI? Instead of the human experience competing against AI-driven tactics, the two can actually work together to cultivate powerful relationships between banks and their customers by delivering individualized, convenient, efficient, and secure experiences. AI, when leveraged correctly, enhances the human element of a brand by resolving pain points and delivering on customer’s needs.

Individualization at scale

The idea of individualization at scale may sound like an oxymoron – but we can assure you, it’s not! Banks can create individualized experiences by giving their customer service programs a major upgrade.

When ranking 18 intellectual drivers, customers have named “Provides the best customer service” as the most important driver in both 2022 and 2023. Furthermore, individualization ranked fourth among 10 emotional drivers – up two spots since last year. Combining the two to create an individualized customer experience is a powerful way for banks to level up their brand experience.

As it stands, when customers call customer service for most banks, they are forced into multi-step automations, where they’re prompted to re-enter the same information at various touchpoints and endure long wait times before speaking to an actual human.

According to Hubspot, nearly 60% of customers feel that long holds and wait times are the most frustrating parts of a service experience. And, TimeTrade reports that businesses lose 75% of customers due to long wait times.

Instead of robotic, automated answering, banks should invest in AI and automation resources into fast tracking customer data to human support agents. Imagine your bank’s reps understanding a customer’s reason for calling, their next best action, and other measures to take to optimize their banking experience – all before the customer even speaks.

Furthermore, the in-depth customer profile allows support representatives to deliver tailored product recommendations and solutions for each customer. The result is a customer base that is more ingrained in their ecosystem, with higher engagement across product suites.

Providing this level of personalized experience nurtures a more active and reciprocal relationship between banks and customers, enhancing the overall experience. With the added advantage of AI, banks have an unprecedented ability to demonstrate they truly know and understand their customers.

Convenience at the core

With customer expectations for speed and seamless experiences at an all time high, driving customers to the right touchpoints in their exact time of need is an opportunity to build deeper relationships. Customers have ranked “Ease: Makes banking simple” as the second most important intellectual driver for three years in a row.

Leveraging AI tools to automate the flow of digital and mobile app traffic is a win-win, providing a more convenient experience for the customer while removing the manual burden from the bank employees. By thoughtfully implementing AI to complement human strengths and abilities, financial institutions can enhance our shared humanity.

Look for opportunities in the customer journey where AI and automation tools can eliminate unnecessary steps, such as automating account openings, streamlining loan and credit approval processes, and enabling self-service options for basic transactions and inquiries.

AI and automation also reduce the time and effort needed to carry out various transactions, in turn reducing unnecessary customer fees and other detractors that dampen the experience. Banks can leverage these tools to eliminate some of these barriers and infuse more humanity into the customer experience.

Financial institutions can also tap into AI to provide the educational resources customers crave to optimize their personal financial journeys. “Gives me confidence that my financial health will be better tomorrow than it is today” is more important now than ever before, having jumped two rankings under emotional drivers year-over-year.

AI tools are instrumental in helping banks develop this infotainment content in the form of videos, graphics, and other snackable formats. With the next generation of FinServ customers looking to their banks for guidance on how to manage their money to secure future prosperity, AI-powered tools like chatbots and personalized recommendations can help meet the demand for financial literacy and planning.

Simple, secure, seamless

Security has been the most important emotional driver for banking customers for three years in a row. While concerns about data security and AI are abundant, financial institutions can flip the script by using these tools to actually enhance customer security.

For example, AI can analyze network traffic to detect anomalies that may indicate a cyberattack. It can also monitor customer behaviors to identify suspicious activity and detect fraud before the criminal has had a chance to do serious damage.

By leveraging AI’s pattern recognition capabilities, banks can establish highly effective cybersecurity shields to safeguard customer data. The technology can augment human security teams, allowing them to focus on higher-level strategic protections while AI handles real-time monitoring and threat detection.

Financial institutions have a responsibility to keep customer data secure – AI gives them an advantage in staying a step ahead of the bad actors. Rather than representing a risk, thoughtfully implemented AI can become an ally and foster stronger customer confidence.

AI-driven human experiences

AI can empower human-centric experiences when used strategically and intentionally. By combining the scalability and efficiency of these technologies with a human focus on relationships and service, financial institutions can provide the individualized, convenient, and secure experiences today’s customers expect.

The potential exists to revolutionize the industry – but only for those ready to put the customer at the center and leverage AI as an enabler, not just a cost-cutting mechanism. And those who do will be poised to deliver on a more human element than the industry has seen to date.

Read more about how to create a more human-centric financial institution and what matters most to consumers in the Humanizing Brand Experience: Financial Services, Vol 3 report.

Interested in learning more about our Humanizing Brand Experience: Financial Services report and what these insights mean for your financial institution? Set up a meeting with our team to review the results from this year’s report, create an action plan, and learn how you can gain access to customer data that is tailored to your brand and market.

Brian Elkins
December 5, 2023 By Brian Elkins