Despite the ongoing efforts of banks to attract millennials, they are still failing to make an impression. According to Gallup, only 23% of millennials are actively engaged with their bank, making millennials the least engaged generation. Considering that fully engaged customers bring considerable benefits and higher revenues – this is a big problem.
If banks expect millennials to “simply grow up,” they may be facing a tough road ahead. Financial institutions – banks and others – that find a way to communicate with millennials on their terms and give them the financial tools they want are more likely to end up the winners.
When millennials feel supported and are able to choose the way in which they interact with a bank, they are more likely to strengthen their relationships and make smarter financial decisions. But millennials have high expectations; if engagement with their bank isn’t excellent in all channels, satisfaction drops from 55% to 15%.
Millennial Habits: Engaged, Not Committed
Millennials communicate differently than previous generations. They prefer texting over talking, emojis over words, and talking to Siri or Alexa over talking to a real human. Strange? Depending on who you are. These new communication etiquettes are second nature to those that have grown up with instant online chatting and texting.
Millennials enjoy being able to choose the timing and terms of their communication. Living in an on-demand world has shifted expectations to match. They want to be able to open their messaging platform, talk to their friends, schedule appointments and check their bank account – all at the same time and while watching their favorite Netflix series.
A 2015 survey showed that nearly half of all young adults (ages 18–29) use messaging apps to communicate. Of those, 35% use Facebook Messenger, 32% use WhatsApp and 25% use Skype. These alternative forms of communication appeal to millennials because of their instantaneous nature, familiar interfaces, and the ability to hold multiple conversations at the same time – being engaged without being committed.
Banking Bots and Assistants
This is where a bot comes handy. Visiting a bank branch, calling a representative or chatting through a Web feature only does so much good when millennials are spending their time engaged in messaging platforms. A 2014 survey found that the average millennial spends nearly three hours a day texting and using messaging apps. And now that messaging apps have surpassed the usage of social media, this is the natural place to engage with customers of all ages and manage day-to-day financial tasks.
The advantage of using artificial intelligence to interact with customers is the automatic relationship that is forged through a chat bot or voice-enabled assistants like Siri or Alexa. Something about removing the human element, yet being able to communicate on a human-like level, makes certain processes and tasks more attractive and effective for millennials.
Integrating guidance and service into chat and personal assistant bots provide a two-way advantage for millennials and banks. Customers can conduct financial business on their terms with the tools they are comfortable with, and institutions can gather secure data from every interaction to learn more about their customers and to better serve them where they are.
What Makes a Great Bot for Millennials?
The reality is that many of the bots you can find today are just not smart enough to provide useful advice and guidance. If all the bot can do is tell me what my balance is, how useful is it?
A well-built bot uses several means to answer questions accurately and identify helpful resources for customers. It can not only tell the current account balance, but also transfer money to a friend, pay a bill, and report recent spending activity.
Taken to the next level, it can use predictive analytics to suggest personalized money-saving advice; perhaps a transfer that will help avoid an overdrawn account or tips for avoiding fees while traveling overseas.
Your Bank Bot Checklist
In the very near future, a significant portion of financial services interactions with their customers will be driven by artificial intelligence. Here are five key requirements for your bot to meet the demands of millennials and the generations following them:
- Incorporate the bank’s current content into the bot to provide accurate and complete answers to general questions. This requires automated indexing of bank content (e.g. web pages, FAQs) and serving of this content through the bot channel.
- Access personal data including transactions, balances, and payments as part of the conversation. This requires seamless integration with bank security and authentication protocols.
- Proactively push useful insights in the context of the customer activity. This requires a pre-built library of triggers and workflows that have been validated with FI consumers and can be delivered through the bot channel.
- Learn over time to improve the ability to predict user needs and respond with helpful information.
- Last but not least, your bot should work on the messaging services and integrate with the personal assistants that customers are already using. Facebook Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa are two of the most popular ones, but also look for compatibility with Slack, Line, Kik, WeChat, Siri, and other platforms.
Banks can solve the millennial engagement gap by speaking their language and using technology to help them discover a stable financial future. Those that fail to do it risk losing their future customers.