By Princewill Ekwujuru

Some banks have started engaging customers with intelligent self-service tools to drive customer service experience.

These tools include  Chatbot.   A  computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to provide human-like interaction and perform simple tasks and offer organizations a quick, efficient and cost-effective method of communicating with customers.

Others are Google alert, social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and twitter, customer service representatives working from home, especially companies with offshore offices.

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Of these    tools,    the most popular and adopted is Chatbot. It enables banks engage with customers round the clock  in real-time thereby improving customer service and loyalty.

It provides data-driven insights that banks can use to optimise their existing product line. These insights could also provide ideas for new products that could differentiate banks from their competition.

Speech-driven as well as text-driven chatbots can be used to detect suspicious or unusual customer behaviour, helping banks prevent fraud.

It results    in considerable time and cost savings as it provides instant responses to customer queries and eliminates the need for call centre executives.

It helps access customer information and details. Chatbots can be programmed to offer a more personalised customer experience.

The financial institutions adopting this tool are Access Bank Plc using a Chatbot, named Ada and Tamara,    United Bank for Africa Plc, uses the Chatbot name, Leo.

Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, speaking during a press briefing prelude to the unveiling of the new corporate logo following its successful merger with Diamond Bank Plc said: “The combination of Access Bank and Diamond Bank would ensure that “we are able to take and solve customers’ issues right from the wholesale end, down to the man in the village, just because of the use of technology.”

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He added: “To respond to changing lifestyles by using innovation and technology to support societal shifts. With a focus on personalised service that understood people’s desires and ambitions and made them possible, we shall be deploying Ada and Tamara as our chatbots platforms to give our customers prompt and real time answer to their query.”

Experts’ comments

According to Smart Gerrand of Trendboot Africa, an online customer service platform said: “AI will account for 85 percent of customer relationships by 2020, but noted that fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs), oil & gas companies, aviation and the hospitality industry can achieve this only and when they adopt the new trends.

Also, Chief Executive Officer of Kantar Millward Brown Nigeria, Mrs. Ugo Geri-Robert said: “There are many customer service organizations whose staff doesn’t know the definition of customer service.   This means helping customers efficiently in a friendly manner”.

It’s essential to be able to handle issues for customers and do your best to ensure they are satisfied.”

“Providing good service is one of the most important things that can set your business apart from the others,” she said.”

On his part, Jonson Meribe, a customer service agent based in Lagos, said: “These numbers will rise in 2019.   Once a customer has a great customer service experience via social media they will expect same from all the companies they do business with.    My  advice for 2019: “Do it now, if you are not doing it yet. Start with Facebook and/or Twitter.”

“The nature of customer service industry is changing rapidly. To become customer centric is the goal of most businesses.

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Companies who provide great customer service experience will only have benefits over companies that do not” he said.

“The new trends in customer service are emerging day after day and one cannot overlook it. You need to get prepared, update the skills and knowledge of your representatives, and use the latest tools and technology in order to provide best customer service to the customers,” stated another agent, Musiliu Akanmu of Seal Chat Room.

Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, Thomas Husson in a report said: “The power of Smartphone is rising day by day. Numbers of Smartphone users are increasing rapidly. Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That is why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations. It will transform your entire business.”

“You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers and customers into sales people. In our office here we see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”  according to Azunna Ibewuike of   Maph Ventures.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.