“We have an internal motto for our team of, ‘we want to be there for our members, wherever they are’,” says Warren Pattson, VP of Innovation & Emerging Technology for United Federal Credit Union. Though their objective is to meet customers 24/7, their digital channels only had set hours of availability. While users could access their website 24/7, they couldn’t always get help directly from the credit union. While members needed help at all hours of the day, United FCU couldn’t always be there when members needed them. To truly fulfil their motto, they wanted to provide service for users no matter what time they needed it, and no matter where they happened to be. An AI-Powered Chatbot seemed to be the perfect solution. 

Not only would a Chatbot provide them with 24/7 service, but it would also solve another issue they were having simultaneously: call center volumes. “We believed, outside of availability, that we distinctly could have that bot answer a number of questions that was taking up a lot of our time with our call center and frontline staff,” explains Pattison. Their call center’s most frequently asked question was ‘What’s your routing number?’, a question that could easily be answered by an automated chatbot. Having an easily accessible system requiring no human agent that could answer these questions, and a number of others, could free up their call center staff to handle queries and tasks where having a human agent on the other end would be more meaningful. The kinds of interactions that build relationships, strengthen brand loyalty, and potentially even sell products. 

Having a chatbot that answers FAQ style questions, however, is not all that United FCU wishes to accomplish with their Finn AI chatbot. They know that Conversational AI has so much more potential, and are currently in the midst of a ‘crawl, walk, run’ plan to have their chatbot become a full-on virtual banking assistant; a digital concierge that can provide proactive advice and assistance based on the user’s unique data. As an example, suggesting the user begin to look into purchasing a larger home if it is noticed they’re buying more baby or pet products, and providing product suggestions and advice which can help with such a purchase. “It’s more partnership driven, it’s more meaningful and action oriented versus just ‘tell us your problem and we’ll solve it’,” Pattison says. An AI-Powered Chatbot could potentially solve problems for their members before that member even asks for assistance, or even knows of their problem to begin with. 

Though United FCU is currently still in their ‘walk’ phase, the chatbot they currently have in place is already seeing tremendous results: every month sees an increase in both users actively engaging with the chatbot and the rate of users’ questions answered solely by the bot without human interaction needed. “Every month that we’ve had this in the walk phase… has been a record month for containment rate” says Pattison. At their call centers, they’re finding call volumes down but average call lengths increasing: a result of higher value, more complex queries being prioritized by live agents. As less calls on average come in, support staff can give more time to these relationship-building interactions with their members. United Federal Credit Union’s Conversational AI chatbot is already seeing great results that satisfy their desire to be there for their customers 24/7, and they’re quickly on their way to providing an even higher level of service in the near future.

Want to hear more from Warren and other industry leaders on the shifting roles of Conversational AI in Banks and Credit Unions? Check out this session from the Conversational Banking Summit 2021.