The first episode of Millennial Banking Flix, a part of Aspire’s Millennial Banking initiative, is a thought provoking video series to enlighten the curious minds in banking.

Conversational UIs are a great way to simplify banking experiences.  But can chatbot interactions come close to a human interaction?

We have Raghu Raghavan, Global Marketing Director, Aspire Systems and Vishwas Anand, Head of Thought Leadership, Aspire Systems for a rendezvous to discuss the actual use of chatbot in banks. Watch this video to learn the state of chatbots adoption in banking amidst all the hype.


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Video Transcript

Vishwas: Hi I am Vishwas, I head the thought leadership team and I have with me Raghu who heads the marketing team here at Aspire Systems. Our topic for today is Millennial Banking: Can Chatbots be their 2 AM Buddy?

So thank you for joining us today. We appreciate you taking the time to watch this webinar. And we hope to help you solve the millennial engagement dilemmas at your bank.

So Raghu here is a million dollar question for you – what do millennials really want from their banks?

Raghu: In Robert Waldinger’s TED Talk called “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness”, a survey was conducted for the Millennials which revealed that more than 80% ‘s major life goal was to get “rich” quicker.

So it’s simple – “Millennials want to get rich ASAP”

The banks role here would be to provide a premise for millennials telling them where their money should be put for better savings, where is the money going and so on. To basically serve as a trusted advisor!

To aid this – banks need to make sure they provide rich and impactful conversations with their customers. Millennials generally tend to be impatient so the interaction has to be quick and give them the right answer or a solution to their problem and must definitely not be a waste of their time.

At Aspire we have around 1250 millennials working for us. After observing them, my family friends and plenty other millennials on a day to day basis – I would like to make a new proposition – something for marketers at banks who are marketing their services to millennials to think about.

Many of you might have heard that “the medium is the message” from Marshall McLuhan from a book called Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man which was published in 1964.

This is not the case in a post-truth digital world, hence I’m proposing the contrary- the message is the medium, in a way that blinds us from the character of the medium itself!

Vishwas: Well put Raghu! So you’re saying that the medium doesn’t count anymore but it’s the message that’s paramount today.

Raghu: Yes – the big question here is how banks can convert complex millennial conversations into something that comes in an easy communication format proving to be valuable, rich and rewarding.

Vishwas: True, humans in general have conversations that are complex – Millennials tend to extend this complexity to a whole new enigmatic realm.

Raghu: Yes so that’s where I wanted to know if chatbots can really decode the Millennial’s mind and make true connections? Because chatbots if used correctly can address the basic level of attention millennials deserve.

Vishwas: While a weather bot can be forgiven for showing an “undefined” message – a bank runs the risk of losing a Millennial every time they display an undefined message when they ask for their bank balance.

So coming to the penetration of chatbots among millennials  – a survey by BI Intelligence shows that 60% of US millennials have used chatbots on a messaging app. As you can see Millennials have dabbled in chatbots most of the time.

It is interesting to see how the intriguing elements from the back-end come together to build a powerful medium. For this identifying and building a powerful message, as you rightly said, is the first vital step.

Raghu: Peter Wannemacher from Forrester says bots and AI services will improve but banks will not be driving this evolution. It’s the fintech firms that are going to push AI and bots to the next level.

Vishwas: Yes Raghu! The current chatbot use cases in banking don’t come close to realizing rich engaging conversations with Millennials. They have already lost the plot in being designed to solve a specific purpose without so much as paving the way for a rich messaging diversity.

Popular banks are focusing on the medium rather than the message. Facebook messenger and other text messaging platforms for their network effects of popular ecosystems was a justification they gave. How can they step up to be a 2 AM buddy- someone a millennial can trust their most precious finances with at an unpredictable hour!

I am now going to walk you through a few banking chatbots of today and their purpose for existence

  • Bank of America- Launched ERICA that would help customers with real-time updates on their finances using a channel of their preference
  • RBS- Launched LUVO that uses sentiment analysis to help distinguish urgent queries
  • ABSA- Uses customer interactions to determine popular topics and offer more targeted advice in future
  • TOYKA- Helps customers with general queries such as locating ATMs, personal finance and making transactions
  • DBS- Launched MY KAI for conducting transactions and for handling personal finance
  • CaixaBank- Uses Watson to answer specific queries in Spanish with large amounts of data catering to international commerce
  • Swedbank- Launched NINA for intuitive analysis that would source relevant information on specific queries

Research firm Gartner says by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.  Are chatbots the revolutionary answer to address a Millennial’s needs and be their 2 AM buddy? Not in their present state. Do you think today’s bots are still playing the imitation game Raghu?

Raghu: The chatbot concept isn’t new, there has been an evolution of sorts starting from Alan Turing’s “Imitation Game” in 1950. Chatbots came into the picture in 1966 with Eliza and the Eliza effect of fooling humans into believing they were talking to a real person came close to passing the Turing test.

Let’s take a look at a chatbot conversation from 1972 between Eliza and Parry

ELIZA: Good Evening. Tell me your problems. Please terminate input with a period or a question mark.

PARRY: People get on my nerves sometimes.

ELIZA: I am not sure I understand you fully.

PARRY: You should pay more attention.

ELIZA: Would you like to discuss your nerves?

PARRY: I guess so.

ELIZA: What does that suggest to you?

PARRY: What are you getting at?

ELIZA: What answer would please you most?

PARRY: It’s not a matter or like or dislike.

ELIZA: What else would you like to discuss?

PARRY: I am getting tired of answering the same questions over and over.

ELIZA: What resemblance do you see?

PARRY: Why do you need to know that?

ELIZA: What do you think?

PARRY: I don’t understand your motives.

ELIZA: Why don’t you understand my motives?

So the real test of a banking chatbot today is to be speaking in human-like interactions while sounding intelligent. Chatbots need to develop personalities of their own in order to engage with customers more effectively.

Vishwas: So Raghu what do you think are the building blocks to facilitate rich conversations with millennials?

Raghu: I’ve come up with a 3A model that Banks can use as a framework to optimize moments of truth in a Millennial’s journey for rich conversations.

Authenticity: Banks would need to beef up their Artificial Intelligence offerings to create a personality for their bots to make this happen. The end goal here is to provide millennials a virtual conversational buddy from the bank– a trusted informant regarding their banking activities.

Accuracy: The precision of the chatbot to stay relevant offering the right amount of functional utility associated with every transaction. Every conversation between a chatbot and a millennial customer could be an average of 10 messages. So the right amount of information given during one conversation by a bot is key here.

Agility: Since conversational banking is still in its infancy, business and interaction models need to synergize and provide contextual, individualized experiences across multiple digital touchpoints

Vishwas: So clearly Raghu if banks want to champion the bot market, they need to first optimize the components of a rich message in order to build powerful mediums.

A principal aspect of strong messaging is advanced sentiment analysis. A rich message brings in the human touch at the right moment. However, one of the toughest challenges for banks dealing with chatbots is the integration between their call centre services and the chatbot itself.

One way to go about this is to build custom dashboards to glean insights from the last 10 queries of the client– and all the call centre agent has to do is to pick up the conversational thread from where the chatbot left off. AI, Machine learning and NLP can go a long way in building the right context of the conversation and use APIs to connect to a live customer support guy if need be. Furthermore, rich multimedia components like dynamic buttons or even images such as ones describing the types of credit cards available have increased interactions by upto 20%. So text is not the only answer

The case of Citizens Bank shows how even with a solid digital strategy– simple design, intuitive UX, live chat– low conversion rates were still prevalent among Millennials due to a lack of timely contextualized engagement. They learnt the hard way that digital experience alone doesn’t cut it at an individual level unless moments of truth are identified and optimized.

Upon creating a powerful messaging service with a chatbot solution—built on authenticity, accuracy and agility—, Citizens Bank transformed their Millennial relationships- experiencing a 10% increase of loan completions and a $136.4 million in booked loans. This is one prime example of how a bank has used the 3 A model to make a true connection with Millennials.

Using the 3A model of authenticity, accuracy and agility, banks will now be able to build chatbots that would arrive into the mainstream. Proactive, intelligent and empathetic engagement would serve the needs of each unique Millennial.  For lasting impressions with Millennials are more important than first impressions.