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Deflect yet still serve: The value of Conversational AI in customer service


Call deflection is a standard part of a customer service strategy for banking services and financial services organizations. Traditional channels, particularly phone calls, are resource-heavy, requiring the dedicated attention of customer service agents on a one-on-one basis.

Increasing service efficiency (whether in a call center environment or otherwise) means that teams need to reduce the load, reserving these channels for high-touch support. And that requires deflection.

Deflection is not dismissive

The word “deflection” may appear dismissive at first glance, but this is the wrong way to think about it. As a tactic, the goal of deflection is not to simply “get rid of the customer,” as is often the gut reaction during a crisis situation.

When done correctly, the act of deflecting calls should be beneficial for all parties. Beyond giving the service agents more room to breathe, it acts as a means of ensuring that each individual gets access to the correct level of support depending on their situation.

In fact, you could go so far as to say that deflection is essential to achieve a robust modern customer experience.

Deflection promotes new forms of engagement

Being able to engage customers on an ongoing basis is a central question in a B2C environment. One study found that strong levels of engagement can lead to a reduction of 63% in customer attrition. It also improved overall performance by 23% when compared to competitors who didn’t prioritize engagement.

Another survey found that 98% of customers value swift issue resolution – which is a key marker of customer engagement – but that only 58% of banking organizations achieve this. As McKinsey argues, engaged customers “are more loyal, have more touchpoints with their chosen brands, and deliver greater value over their lifetime.”

Changing customer habits

Delivering upon these customer expectations using only traditional channels is impossible. It would require a service operation that is too large and too inefficient to make sense. Yet many customers are conditioned to believe that phone calls are the only way to receive quality service.

Take the McKinsey statistic that two thirds of millennials expect real-time customer service, yet cost pressures are rising “at least as quickly as service expectations.” The only viable solution is to deflect, such as moving customers from phone lines to Live Chat channels, which can facilitate asynchronous customer interactions. In fact, one service agent can handle two or more conversations at the same time, boosting operational efficiency when compared to phone calls.

For the individual customer who expects real-time support, deflecting to Live Chat doesn’t lessen the service experience. They still get access to a swift, robust, and personalized service, resulting in a win-win for both parties.

Next-level deflection with Conversational AI

The above example is a simple but effective deflection tactic. One Prague-based bank was able to increase their conversion rate by 5% in August 2022 and by 8% the following month by employing Live Chat channel deflection.

But there has been a huge step forward in what AI-powered chatbots are able to achieve, particularly since the launch of Generative AI in 2023. With AI, banks and financial services organizations can deflect customers before they even consider using traditional channels.
In other words, it promotes self-service uptake.

Leveraging chatbot channels

Unlocking the power of AI is not simply a matter of deploying the most up-to-date technologies. Conversational AI works as part of a full omnichannel solution, allowing for seamless movement between touchpoints. A customer that begins with a chatbot should have access to Live Chat or even phone calls if necessary.

This means finding a solution that offers broad capabilities, while also securely integrating with the organization’s legacy system to facilitate implementation.

With a robust digital integration platform, companies can build deflection into every part of the customer lifecycle, resulting in a seamless customer experience that is more engaging and more valuable.

A sample omnichannel deflection strategy

How has Conversational AI deflection improved?

As mentioned, Conversational AI has undergone incredible improvements recently, which has increased the potential for quality deflection – even under stressful conditions.

We have spoken before about the importance of fortifying your customer service channels before undertaking an ebanking migration. Whether the initiative goes entirely to plan or not, you will likely experience an uptake in customer inquiries.

In these situations, customer service representatives can quickly become overwhelmed, and they need a solution that reduces strain, provides them with relevant information, and ensures customer service excellence.

Beyond a standard chatbot offering, what are the elements that will ensure this outcome?

Secure and authenticated access

Firstly, customers need to be able to access the support channels. This means that the chatbot feature must be available even behind secured or authenticated areas.

Smart training (that is also fast)

Traditionally, it takes a long time to train new chatbots. By leveraging Generative AI, chatbots can be quickly trained on internal resources, allowing for more accurate results to customer queries. The bot can even make customer intent suggestions to effectively train itself, overseen by a human for accuracy.

AI-driven chatbot support

Conversational AI is like a virtual assistant, blurring the lines between artificial intelligence and human support. The system can route customers in real time to ensure the human agent with the correct skills and knowledge attends them. Beyond this, the chatbot can generate suggested responses for agents taken from the internal knowledge base during chats, further increasing agent efficiency.

Speed and accuracy for chatbot success

In a financial industry customer service context, deflection has become something of an art form. Now, instead of the one-note tactic of easing channel burden, it has become a key element in delivering the right level of service. This is true whether you are experiencing a crisis situation or for simply improving efficiency and engagement in your everyday operations.

Speed and accuracy are the two elements that make this new form of deflection so valuable. Technological advancements, when combined with a robust and secure platform, allow for rapid bot training based on internal knowledge sources.

The result is a tool that can accurately and swiftly solve the customer’s issue and increase customer satisfaction, while also relieving the burden.

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