Chatbots are driving positive change in the buying experience in many industries.[1] Hospitality, insurance, retail and travel companies already use chatbots, both to their own advantage and their consumers’ also. These legions of business chatbots offer information. And with that comes a helpful and seamless route for shoppers to make purchases.

Asset management firms should consider adopting chatbots too. When deployed as part of a holistic and comprehensive digital investor engagement strategy, chatbots can enhance the customer experience. They can help to increase revenue and reduce the cost of serving investors. Investor-facing bots can interact in a convenient, familiar and even in a fun manner. Bots can also interface with employees. In this role, they can be applied to administrative and compliance matters…more on this topic in a later blog.

Bot Basics

The power of bot technology comes from the ability to combine applications and web services to create new possibilities. The capabilities depend on the platform used and data available. Here are some chatbot basics:

  • A chatbot’s conversational-based user interface allows it to interact with investors and employees in natural language using text or speech
  • Natural language processing enables answers to be mapped to questions on the back end
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow chatbots to call services or to integrate with apps to deliver the outcomes users seek
  • Accuracy increases through manual updates and feedback, e.g., “Was this chat session useful – ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
  • Advanced search technology can bring together knowledge bases from multiple systems to give chatbots the ability to answer a wide range of questions

Deep learning algorithms can help chatbots discern which answers satisfy customer needs. At times, human intervention is required to update or improve these capabilities. Also, having customer service agents to override proceedings, when needed, provides the best use of human experts. That said, chatbots are becoming smarter fast. Systems learn with experience. They even draw on cognitive services (senses, emotions) to increase their usefulness.

Embarking on the Journey (Mapping)

Asset managers seeking to implement chatbots face a few early challenges. They need to have the right processes and data in place.

Here are three key considerations to take into account:

Challenge #1: Strike the right balance between automation and meaningful client care

It is important to draw a bright line at the outset around interactions that must be handled by humans. How? With detailed mapping of the customer journey. “Journey mapping” records the route of an investor’s or employee’s interactions with your firm over time. It documents each phase and touchpoint of the experience. Along the way, the viability of a chatbot solution for each process emerges. A guiding principle also will help here: the most complex interactions must be handled by humans, and the default must be customer care over productivity. At many firms, a human “concierge” can parachute into in the conversation if the client asks questions that the bot is unable to answer.

Challenge #2: Have the right information

A second challenge may be the lack of access to data and systems that provide the knowledge sought by the user. Chatbots rely on the existence and provisioning of system access and data availability. Upstream systems must have the required capabilities to provide a meaningful experience. The on-demand nature of this new form of client interaction may test the ability of some legacy systems to deliver and will require a data governance structure to ensure quality.

Challenge #3: Focus on the right value

Processes that are not well documented, immature or likely to change within 12-18 months may not be suitable. The key: known, standard processes capture chatbot value. As such, identify only those that are highly repetitive with little to no expected deviations in the future. Chatbots are well suited to frequent use processes where responses often are similar and high volume creates a business case to automate them. Additionally, think about the firm’s overall growth strategy and how to gain additional sales, one investor at a time using a chatbot.

Where to Start?

Asset managers can deploy chatbots to expedite routine administrative tasks for investors. A perfect place to start may be a call center, where numerous repetitive inquiries occur. Let chatbots manage requests for name change forms, fund NAVs or prospectuses. With the right authentication protocols in place, investors can even inquire about account balances and instruct transactions.

Introducing chatbots should not be done as a cost-saving initiative alone. This technology offers new ways to engage clients any place and at any time. When applied correctly, these robotic helpers enable firms to derive measurable quantitative and qualitative returns.

Chatbots can transform the asset management business: from selling to supporting, from processing transactions to building relationships, from monologues to dialogues.

If you’re interested in hearing more, let’s chat about chatbots.

[1] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-39/Accenture-PoV-Dynamic-Consumers.pdf

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