When you think about Artificial Intelligence (AI) what comes to mind? For many, the term is still associated with killer androids and other hackneyed science fiction tropes. For others, it’s indelibly tied to emerging innovations such as autonomous vehicles or big tech companies. But how many of you would link it to such establishment sectors as wealth/asset management or investment banking?
I’m betting they’re probably not the first things you’d associate with the most innovative technology on the planet—yet they’re at the cutting edge of AI. Within five years it’s thought that robo-advisers will account for £1.7 trillion of assets under management. According to PWC, 26 percent of asset and wealth management firms already use AI to inform their big decisions.
Making experiences the UBS way
One financial services giant with big aspirations in this area is UBS. The company sees AI and the related technology of Machine Learning (ML) as its next step in transforming the experiences it offers customers. Since UBS has excellent form in delivering exceptional customer experiences, we should all pay attention to what they’re doing.
Like all companies in their sector, UBS has had to manage rapid transformation at the hands of digital technology. Perhaps the biggest change has been to the customer journey. In the old days that journey was linear because client interactions were largely face-to-face. Experiences were direct and personal and therefore simple to manage.
Digital threw a very large stone into this pond. Today, the journey is fractured, and customers may experience UBS in any number of ways. It could be that they see a banner ad or respond to a tweet; they could read a bit of digital content or view a corporate video. There are any number of touchpoints where the UBS brand experience will influence the client. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning.
UBS has done well in linking up these experiences using the Adobe Experience Cloud as a facilitator. It has thought carefully about the customer journey and how its different elements can be delivered seamlessly—whether that’s content, social, web or even face-to-face interactions. UBS has understood that our increasingly fragmented world demands a coherent customer experience, and they’re delivering this vision with aplomb.
For me, the real excitement is in what comes next. UBS has a vision for a leaner customer experience that’s intelligent, purposeful and able to meet the needs of customers right on the nose. It’s all about using AI and ML to uncover the customer’s intent and then facilitate more collaborative relationships. For UBS it’s about moving away from telling their customers stories, to inviting customers to be a part of that story.
Watch this video to learn more about UBS
Keeping the human touch
What UBS has realised is that AI, ML and related technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) are about making customer experiences more human. Consumers get frustrated with technology because it often puts a barrier up between us and the brand. I’m sure all of you have been annoyed by a poorly designed website or frustrated when you haven’t been able to easily access the information you need. AI allows technology to mimic human traits. The frustration we feel from having to relate to technology on its terms is suddenly removed. Instead, technology relates to us on our terms.
There’s something a little counterintuitive at work here. The more advanced the technologies that companies deploy in the name of customer experience, the more traditional the experience becomes. Historically all customer experiences were one-to-one and personal: only a decade or so ago if I wanted to discuss my portfolio with my asset manager I’d meet them face-to-face. They would know all about me and my investments since they would have personal responsibility for my account.
The AI-enabled virtual agents of tomorrow will be able to replicate this level of personal engagement. I can imagine using just my voice to converse with an AI avatar that has real-time access to all my information and knows my needs intuitively. Perhaps that’s what a brand will eventually become: a personal connection with an AI avatar that mediates your engagement with every service the bank has to offer.
It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but we’re already seeing examples in action. For instance, last year UBS launched a SmartWealth robo-adviser that uses AI and NLP to offer customers a digital wealth management service. This is the sort of convenient, personalised, customer-centric service that AI enables to be rolled out at scale.
The innovation leaders
To paraphrase Dylan, when it comes to financial services, the times they are a changin’. Led by customer experience leaders like UBS, we’ll all soon routinely interact with AI-enabled services and experiences. Thanks to the robots, our financial services will feel more intuitive and human, and will be laser-focused on our individual needs. Keep your eye on the financial sector—where it goes, the rest of us will follow.