March 14, 2017
Capital One Joins the Bot Party, But Red Flags Abound
There is hardly a day that goes by without some piece of news about banks adopting chatbots.
A recent survey conducted by Personetics shows that almost half of the financial institutions surveyed have active chatbot projects in place, and more than three quarters expect it to be a viable commercial solution within the next two years.
Capital One is the latest to join the bot party with “Eno”, which allows customers to get balance, transaction history, and pay bills. That’s a nice start, but is it enough to make the bot attractive and useful to users?
According to Ken Dodelin, VP of digital product development at Capital One, “There’s a lot of hype right now about what chatbots are going to be able to do, and at this point, we’re just satisfied getting our toes in the water. Eno has a long way to go before it can handle all the things that more mature systems can handle.”
The risk to Capital One and other banks that are looking at bots is creating false expectations with customers. Getting customers all excited about a bot that can only respond to a very limited (and somewhat trivial) set of questions could be a risky strategy – as customers may very quickly give up on the bot when they realize it is not too helpful.
Chatbots can be (and we believe will be) an important engagement channel for the bank, but only if done right. As Horia Velicu, head of innovation at BRD Groupe Société Générale said: “If I can order a ride or buy food, I should also be able to manage my money in the same conversational and real-time environment.”
For a bot to be useful, it needs to cover a reasonable set of questions that a customer might want to ask. It should be able to hold an intelligent conversation in the context of the customer’s financial situation, and actually help the customer get things done.
“We did internally a lot of customer journey exercises to imagine all kinds of questions and pain points,” said Velicu. “We aim to handle everything regarding the investment fund experience, starting from subscription, redemption, seeing performance, adding to the position, getting out, receiving alerts and so on.”
With all the noise surrounding chatbots, it’s hard for banks to figure how to proceed. Sit too long on the sidelines, and you’ll be left behind. Jump in too quickly, and you may stab your toe with a botched attempt that could leave customers unhappy.
So what’s a bank to do? Drop us a note and we’d be happy to share our experience.