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Banks should avoid customer service robots for a few more years

Banking sector should not use software robots to automate customer services such as chat because consumers expect better service levels when it come to their finances

Banks should not use software robots on messaging platforms for a few more years because the customer experience is not yet good enough, according to Forrester Research.

Software is used in sectors such as retail and mobile phone to automate customer services through online chats, but in banking, customers require a level of service that these robots cannot yet guarantee, the IT analyst company said.

The analyst said it will be another two or three years before banks should adopt the technology for customer service messaging.

A Forrester test found that existing chat bots either failed to complete the consumer’s request or provided a clunky, awkward experience in about one in three tests.

Forrester analyst Peter Wannemacher said that when it comes to dealing with their money, consumers expect a better and consistent level of service. “While someone may not fret much when ordering a taco is clunky or doesn’t work, the stakes are too high when it comes to actions and advice related to people’s money,” he said.

“Money is an area where people are least willing to put up with mediocre bots,” said Forrester’s Bots aren’t ready to be bankers report. “Most consumers feel that conversations and interactions about personal finances are highly sensitive. Bot errors can be problematic for banks.”

Forrester said that, apart from those in China that are already heavy users of chat bots, banks should focus on other digital initiatives until the underlying artificial intelligence (AI) has improved.

Read more about artificial intelligence

These digital initiatives include re-engineering back-end data systems to enable real-time info and actions, improving or replacing legacy banking systems, and embracing APIs (application programming interfaces).

It also recommended that banks allow technology companies to take the lead on the technology. “Technology companies are equipped to push AI and bots to the next level, and banks will be able to reap the rewards of these advances,” said Forrester.

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