Corporate Insight is tracking how virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience. Virtual assistants (VAs) are a fast-developing technology that significantly impacts how financial institutions can service customer needs. Users who are averse to complicated navigation schemes or unfamiliar with financial terminology may find it easier to simply ask a VA for what they want—and do so using everyday language. VAs also have the power to proactively share personalized insights, exposing users to valuable information about their financial lives.

Mobile-based VA interactions are typically efficient and cost-effective for resolving simple inquiries like account information questions, investment research requests, and transaction and account servicing needs. Thus, VAs have the potential to relieve the burden on branches and call centers—ever more important during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic—freeing up more human customer service representatives (CSRs) to assist clients with complex needs.

Corporate Insight’s 2019 Consumer Credit Card Survey (subscription required) shows demand for VAs increasing as younger generations come of age. 52% of Millennials considered VA-based account information and navigation features to be “very important” or “extremely important.” And that’s compared with 37% of Gen Xers and 19% of Boomers. Likewise, 41% of Millennials attributed the same top-two box importance to performing account tasks with a VA, compared with 24% of Gen Xers and 19% of Boomers.

Although virtual assistants are becoming increasingly prevalent, they’re still missing from some firms’ apps

Banks, brokerages and credit card providers employ various approaches to the mobile native VA experience. These approaches range from simple prompt-based chatbots that redirect users to relevant app sections to robust VAs that understand natural language through multiple input types and provide actionable replies directly within the interface. Several firms only recently introduced VAs in their mobile apps, perhaps reacting to increased demand for customer service during the height of the pandemic. Charles Schwab, Chase and U.S. Bank each added VAs during the past year.

While only 12 firms (50%) in the Mobile Monitor coverage set provide a proprietary VA, 18 (75%) offer an assistant of some kind with the inclusion of third-party integrations. When CI reviewed this topic in 2018, few firms offered a proprietary assistant. And even fewer provided in-assistant information displays of any kind. Now, 11 of the 12 firms (92%) with proprietary assistants supply account balances, recent transactions or other details directly in the conversational journey. For transactional capabilities like transfers, payments and trading, most VAs redirect users to the relevant app interface. Only Bank of America, Capital One and U.S. Bank facilitate any transactions within the assistant itself. Firms should aim to only have VAs redirect to a live agent in situations where users would not be able to resolve an issue in the app.

The best virtual assistants embed resources or redirect to in-app journeys

VAs should incorporate a wide range of account information, transaction, research and servicing requests without needing to hand clients over to CSRs. Instead, most VAs support in-assistant responses or redirect to in-app features. If an assistant regularly refers clients to CSRs, clients will be more likely to bypass the assistant and contact the firm directly when they next have an inquiry or request.

  • Account information requests are widely supported with in-assistant responses; all but one of the 12 firms with a VA supply account balances, recent transactions or other details directly in the conversational journey

    virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience - account information requests
    Bank of America Recent Purchases Request, Chase Account Balance Request, Capital One Available Credit Request and Charles Schwab Portfolio Request
  • For transactional capabilities like transfers, payments and trading positions, most VAs simply redirect to the relevant app interface; standout offerings from Bank of America and U.S. Bank provide comprehensive scheduling journeys or embedded interfaces for several money movement capabilities

    virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience - transactional capabilities
    U.S. Bank Internal Transfer Request, Bank of America P2P Transfer Request, Capital One Payment Request and Charles Schwab Transfer Request Redirects
  • Among firms with investing offerings, VAs typically provide in-assistant market overviews or quotes

    virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience - investing offerings
    Charles Schwab Market Performance Request, Charles Schwab Stock Price Request and Chase Quote Request

Embedding resources and redirecting to in-app interfaces are just two impactful ways firms can enhance their virtual assistants. Our recent Mobile Monitor report on virtual assistants (subscription required) covers other recommendations for an optimal user experience, such as leveraging all of the available forms of interaction available on smartphones and incorporating personalized insights.

Learn more about how virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience

To learn more about how virtual assistants transform the mobile user experience in the financial services space, sign up for our upcoming webinar. During the webinar, we will review best practices, present unique approaches and spotlight best-in-class competitor offerings.

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