4 Tips for Financial Institutions to Get the Most Out of a Pilot Chatbot Project

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Chatbots are here to stay. They are great at automatically handling smaller, specific tasks, such as buying tickets for a flight, getting quick answers for simple questions, or setting up an appointment. Financial Institutions however typically struggle to get their first chatbot project off the ground, due to the wide variety of services and products they have on offer. It can be difficult to determine what to focus on, how to approach the project, and how to benefit from the advantages a bot can offer.

Similar lists mostly focus on general tips, such as having great copywriting for the bot, including cool features and multi-media content, designing a likable personality and a sympathetic profile picture. We assume you already know all that or read about it many times over. Instead, we want to focus on some key areas and problems that we saw arise in the financial industry (our field of expertise), when our clients wanted to launch their first chatbot project.

So, if you’re thinking of getting such a project going, keep these 4 tips in mind to succeed!

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1.    Marketing push

Your first chatbot project will most likely be a smaller pilot program or a PoC (proof of concept) demo. Such a project will obviously not cover all the product and services the company has to offer, so what should you focus on? The obvious answer is to find something that can be implemented simply, quickly, without complicated integration. Some product that is easy to explain to the users, but is still interesting enough to drive them to engage with the bot.

Simplicity is obviously important, but here’s a tip: for the biggest ROI on the project the optimal product or service to the bot should focus on is one that is next in line for a big marketing push.

Why? Well…

  • Your new chatbot will need to have a marketing campaign to let customers know about the new platform. This can get expensive, but you can keep costs low, if the announcement of the bot is integrated into an already approved marketing campaign for a new product.
  • Customers who don’t care for this new product may show an interest in it anyway, just to try out the new chatbot
  • The sales and product management teams will be open to your proposal, and welcome the project, as it means that their product will have even more exposure and garner even more interest from the public
  • If you highlight the completely new and different channel of communication, you can complement and boost the effectiveness of the traditional marketing campaign, which will continue to provide leads even when the marketing push period is over

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2.    Image and perception

Traditional financial Institutions generally struggle with an image problem. Their professionalism is reflected in a serious and morose tone of communication, which unfortunately also exudes a feeling of being obsolete, out of touch and behind the curve. This is mostly a general feeling based on unfortunate pre-conventions by the public, but it’s a stigma that’s difficult to shed none the less.

A chatbot is a great solution to find the perfect balance between keeping the professional tone, and adding a welcoming, younger style of casual communication.

The bot pilot project can be a first attempt at trying out a different tone, without compromising the traditional professionalism of the company. A company website for example can be elegant, sleek and serious, while the bot can appeal to casual clients with a friendly approach, smiling emojis and cute jokes. This is not to say that bots can’t exhibit a more serious attitude, but generally users respond well to a more casual tone, as text on a messaging platform is never too formal.

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If the new bot project is advertising a product or service with a marketing campaign (see the previous point), the bot should reflect the attitude of the campaign. For example, if a Bank is using a cute dog to advertise family-friendly garden home mortgages, that dog could be the “face” of the bot, and the text could have cute dog related puns, such as… “We offer low pawcenteges on our interests!” 😊

3.    A helpful hand

Another disadvantage of the vast array of products a financial institution has on offer is the paralyzing power of too much choice for the user. For example, seeing several credit card types with various benefits, diverse interest rates and differing requirements, most websites list all the card details and leave it up to the client to choose the one best suited for their needs.

Why wait (and hope) for the users to do all the work, when we can help them out?

A bot is the perfect companion for those who have no idea where to begin. Keeping with the card example, the bot can recommend the product most suited for the client simply by asking some questions that even laymen can understand, such as

  • Would you like cashback opportunities?
  • Do you need insurance with your card?
  • What’s your maximum weekly spending limit?

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In other words, whenever a user has to make decisions about something they might not be well versed in, it’s always a great opportunity to have the bot come to their aid. Just think about what you yourself would ask, if you didn’t know anything about your product. Such simple solutions often get the best results, since giving a helping hand to someone is sure to win their favour.

4.    Hook, line, and sinker

Chatbots can still elicit excitement from users, whenever they find one that is fun to engage with. This is why even a small, pilot project can leave a lasting impression on the audience. But once users are hooked thanks to interesting interactions and a cool way to engage with the product or service, many companies fall into the trap of leaving the users at that, as if they just watched an advertisement on the TV, or a banner ad on a website.

fishing

Instead, when a fish bites on the hook, it’s time to give them some line, then reel them in… as in, get the users contact details and convert them into a qualified lead. Just because this is a pilot project, the users engaging with the bot are all real, potential customers, and you should pursue every last one of them. This is not easy to do however with today’s GDPR regulations, especially if the chat goes through a public 3rd party platform, such as Facebook Messenger or VIBER.

So, what’s the solution? We advise our clients to avoid any compliance issues and use bots on these public platforms only to engage, generate interest, and inform the public in general terms. Then, when the user expresses interest, the bot should offer to continue the conversation in a secure environment, such as the company’s website, or banking mobile application. By accepting, the user should be transported to this secure environment, where the bot is free to ask about private data (contact details, personal habits, etc.). This approach of course requires the bot to support multiple channels, such as Dorsum’s Botboarding platform.

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