Half of Middle East customers now interact with banks through mobile apps, report finds

Financial services companies are using software bots to manage increased workloads due to the pandemic, Verloop.io says

Bots can help banks keep a track of customers’ queries, analyse data, find new trends and perform clerical tasks. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Fifty per cent of consumers in the Middle East, India and South-East Asia are interacting with banks through mobile apps since the Covid-19 outbreak, compared with 32 per cent in 2018, according to a new report.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping banks and other financial institutions to automate services quickly and address customer queries more efficiently during the pandemic, Verloop.io, a Bangalore-based customer support automation company said.

“Conversational AI, which leverages natural language processing [NLP] and natural language understanding [NLU] technology, is engaging customers and encouraging self-service,” the report said.

“This improves customer satisfaction as 65 per cent of users said they prefer automated self-services for simple issues.”

Verloop.io, which has its regional office in Abu Dhabi, conducted the research by analysing two million queries to 20 brands across the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Philippines).

It found nearly three-quarters of customers are using multiple channels to start and complete a transaction and that banks are using bots to manage increased workloads due to Covid-19.

Bots are software that are configured within the company’s system. They can keep track of customers’ queries, interact with them, analyse data, find new trends and perform simple administrative tasks.

“The bots have turned extraordinarily interactive and responsive as they can understand natural languages as much as a human … they deliver comparatively error-free customer service without human biases,” the report said.

An analysis of customer satisfaction scores found an improvement in customer service quality across the banking, finance and insurance industries during the pandemic, the company said.

Verloop.io builds systems for banking, finance services and insurance companies to run automated customer support across channels such as WhatsApp, websites, apps and Facebook Messenger in the language of their choice.

“The [financial services] industry would benefit if their customers transitioned to digital-only, self-service interfaces as it results in significant cost savings,” said Gaurav Singh, founder and chief executive of Verloop.io.

“Today, operational costs take up 15 per cent to 20 per cent of a bank’s annual budget. Making innovations in these functions will lead to a significant improvement in profitability and boost revenues.”