Zendesk CX Trends: How AI is Influencing Customer Experience in Financial Services

With Eric Jorgensen, VP EMEA for Zendesk

Zendesk CX Trends: How AI is Influencing Customer Experience in Financial Services

With Eric Jorgensen, VP EMEA for Zendesk

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Every year, award-winning customer service software company Zendesk shares an essential look into customer experience (CX) trends across a range of industries. The Zendesk CX Trends 2024 Report highlights the top 10 trends that are most important to creating a positive CX. 

As part of the report, Zendesk asked 500 CX financial services leaders from 20 countries about which trends would enable them to strengthen customer trust. In this MoneyNext series, Eric Jorgensen, Vice President of Enterprise Sales EMEA at Zendesk, shares insights into these trends and how they are changing CX within financial services. 

The transformative power of AI is at the heart of this year’s trends, with the capacity to improve all aspects of the customer journey, and in turn, enhance CX. 

Driving CX Forward with AI

Financial institutions are facing a growing demand for faster and more personalised interactions: customers expect immediate responses to their queries, regardless of the channel they use. However, achieving this level of service with a human workforce alone can be incredibly challenging, especially when dealing with an ever-increasing volume of interactions.

Could the adoption of generative AI be a major part of meeting this demand? By automating routine tasks and providing real-time support, AI can enable financial institutions to deliver the speed and efficiency customers crave.

“We’re certainly seeing a recognition within financial services of the need to embrace generative AI and I think it’s all driven around the increased speed and volume of interactions,” highlights Eric. “There’s an increased number of interactions people are having with financial institutions, and there’s an increased expectation as to how quickly that interaction should be dealt with, and also a high expectation of how personal it should be.

 

“We’re seeing generative AI has been a key driver to be able to bring that functionality and help financial services deliver that sort of fast, instant response that’s personable at scale to their customers.”

Around 70% of the CX leaders surveyed as part of the Zendesk CX Trends Report are currently evaluating what generative AI can do for them and their customers. 

From Legacy Chatbots to Digital Agents

Central to this evolution in CX are chatbots: generative AI allows these tools to process information and respond in a more human-like way than before, creating an evolution from basic chatbots to sophisticated digital agents. This includes surfacing relevant data specific to the customer’s current needs, creating a sense of personalisation that legacy chatbots simply couldn’t achieve. 

The report found that currently, only 26% of CX financial leaders consider their bots as having reached the level of digital agents, but with the right investments, 59% of these leaders believe their chatbots will reach the right maturity level within the next year. 

 

“I think we are getting to the point where more and more of what were chatbots are now becoming akin to digital agents,” reveals Eric. “It’s not there yet, I think it’s something that most people are wanting to do.”

 

This desire comes from customer demands, with big players in the fintech space setting a high standard for interactions. 

 

“I guess all of our expectations are shaped by our interactions with other organisations, and so that very rapid response I get from the biggest online retailer that we probably all know very well, really does drive my expectation of other big brands,” offers Eric. “My expectation is I should be getting that same response, that I should be getting that same personalised chatbot or digital agent experience.

 

“I think our consumer behaviour across all types of different industries increases our expectations, and I think that puts an increasing expectation on financial services as well.”

Customers expect a seamless, personalised experience regardless of the industry they are interacting with, and financial services are no exception. By leveraging generative AI, financial institutions can create chatbots that not only answer questions efficiently, but also understand the customer’s journey and provide tailored solutions to their queries. This empathetic approach fosters a sense of value and builds stronger customer relationships.

Personalisation: The Key to Customer Satisfaction

Through the lens of creating a high quality CX with the help of AI, personalisation is key. The value of human interaction can’t be underestimated in this area, but when the customer values speed and efficiency, or is simply short on time and needs a quick response, sophisticated digital agents can lead to the same level of customer satisfaction. 

“People value that speed interaction, but they also want it to be personalised and not just some basic decision tree that’s taking me down a very clear path,” emphasises Eric. “This ability to provide a personalised experience is something that legacy chatbots could not do. We saw people being frustrated with them and not getting the return they were hoping for, and in some cases, even having increased demand on contact centres because people were frustrated with the bot.

“What we’re now seeing with gen AI is it’s being able to put the right information in front of the customer interacting with that digital agent or bot, and that feeling like a personalised experience.”

 

Surfacing and utilising the right data lies is key to creating a personalised experience for every customer, whether they are interacting with a digital agent or a human one. While traditionally finding the relevant data in an efficient time has been challenging, the adoption of generative AI can create a faster, more organised process. 

 

“I think we are getting into a really sort of nice inflexion point between data and AI so that the data is available and we can surface it at scale, in a personalised manner, and that’s making these digital agents seem truly personalised and interactive,” enthuses Eric. “I think that’s the sort of dichotomy of making sure that you can give that empathetic, personalised service, but in a scalable way, by leveraging the data and the technology that enables that to happen and doesn’t require a huge number of people to sort of manually do that.”

 

Ultimately, the power to create a personalised service by using a digital agent doesn’t only prove to be cost-effective for the organisation, but in turn, increases customer satisfaction. 

 

“I think the personalisation is all about the fact that my relationship with my pension provider, my bank, my insurance provider, is not an individual interaction, it’s an ongoing customer journey and so I think where AI and that access to the data and the right data at scale is important is when I’m interacting with a digital board, or even when I’m interacting with an AI platform that’s assisting a human agent,” explains Eric. “It’s surfacing my customer journey, not just my point in time situation.

 

“What makes me feel valued? It’s the same for anyone. It’s like I go to a coffee shop, I go to the supermarket, I go to – dare I say it – my local branch if it was still here, it is that they recognise you and they know what you want or they know why you came in last time. Then you feel more valued because the service you’re getting is tailored.” 

Embracing the Future of CX

The benefits of generative AI extend far beyond simple customer service interactions. These digital agents can also be used to gain valuable customer insights. By analysing conversations, financial institutions can gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences. This data can then be used to develop more targeted products and services, to improve existing products, and even identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. 

“We talk about conversational commerce a lot and we see that in other verticals, I absolutely think it’s relevant to financial services,” highlights Eric.

While the potential of generative AI is undeniable, implementing the technology can take time. However, the report paints a promising picture: 59% of CX financial leaders expect their chatbots to reach digital agent maturity within the next year.

“I think we are going to see that continue to improve,” says Eric. “We will get to 100% or very close to it at some point, but there are a number of steps that are not just AI related, but it’s that sort of structure and data and governance part as well that really allows these organisations to do it fully protecting the customers’ data and privacy.”

Generative AI is rapidly transforming the way financial institutions interact with their customers. By embracing this technology and prioritising a secure and customer-centric approach, financial services institutions can create a future of personalised, efficient, and ultimately, more satisfying CX.

As 70% of CX leaders rethink their entire customer journey, the Zendesk CX Trends 2024 Report explores the ten trends that are transforming CX, and how they will strengthen customer trust and relationships within financial services. Gain essential insights and download the full report now: Zendesk CX Trends 2024

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