Financial services customers set to embrace AI but human contact still vital

04 Jul 2019 | 01:37 pm |

Customers in the UK are embracing the use of AI driven financial services (FS), with 63% happy to use chatbots for every day queries and over a third preferring an instant response from a chatbot over a delayed one from a human.

  • 63% of consumers happy to engage with an AI for everyday queries

  • Over a third (35%) of consumers would prefer an instant response from a chatbot over a delayed one from a human

  • But, if something goes wrong when using an AI, the top choice for customers is to speak with a human

Research carried out by Pinsent Masons and Innovate Finance demonstrates the opportunity for AI to underpin fundamental FS functions, while not losing sight that the role of the human is crucial to transform the industry and garner greater consumer trust.

The report found that when engaging with an AI, the majority of FS customers are happy to do so for simple queries. The figures slightly dropped where services are deemed more complicated and require more consumer data, but remained significant. 33% of consumers are happy to use an AI for mortgage applications, nearly 40% for credit checks and 45% for insurance quotes.

Luke Scanlon, Head of FinTech Propositions at Pinsent Masons commented:

"What we can see from the research is that consumers are open to the use of AI in financial services but, as with the adoption of a lot of technology, there are legal, ethical and cultural challenges to overcome. Early adopters are comfortable with using AI across a multitude of services and see the benefits of it in streamlining certain processes. 

"The key concern cited by customers around using AI centres on the risk of their data being hacked and so, it is not surprising that customers are not as willing to use services that require more data from them, particularly where the benefits of the use of the technology and their data has not been clearly explained to them.

"Over time, as the technology evolves, we would expect to see use figures across a breadth of services increase as customers have more time to adjust and financial services have time to build greater trust in the use of AI systems."

Choice is an important factor for FS customers, with 64% of those surveyed saying that they would like the option to choose between a human advisor and an AI at the outset. Customers do not want it assumed that they are happy to speak with an AI, with 56% saying that they believe consent should be sought for each individual query that an AI would be engaged to deal with.

In addition, the ability to be able to speak with a human at any point during engagement with an AI is crucial. 60% of those surveyed said that if they became aware that something in the process with an AI had gone wrong then they would instantly want to speak with a human. Furthermore, if something does go wrong, 58% believe that the responsibility lies with the financial institution.

Luke Scanlon added:

"As AI becomes increasingly autonomous and removed from human decision-making, it will become even more difficult to establish who is at fault when things go wrong. As such, financial institutions looking to use AI need to think carefully about what it means to treat customers fairly and clarify how liability can be allocated when using AI technologies as clearly the human element remains important to customers."

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO, Innovate Finance commented:

“As technological capabilities evolve, Artificial Intelligence looks increasingly set to become a key part of how financial services companies manage their business, their products and their customer relationships. It’s an exciting time to explore these developments, as well as the new and innovative services that many FinTech companies are bringing to the market.

"We're already seeing significant proportions of consumers feeling comfortable enough with AI to help them answer everyday queries and early adopters are happy with its use for a quick, efficient answer to mortgage or insurance quotes.

"As financial institutions and financial innovators explore the use of AI to better adapt their products and services, we need a reliable and responsible framework for AI adoption which places the customer at its core. We see this as an opportunity to engage in further conversations with policy-makers and regulators to explore how AI can enhance the future of finance.”

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