UBS — Using AI to Humanise Customer Experiences

by Michael Plimsoll

Posted on 03-26-2018

When you think about Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI) what comes to mind? For many, the term is still asso­ci­at­ed with killer androids and oth­er hack­neyed sci­ence fic­tion tropes. For oth­ers, it’s indeli­bly tied to emerg­ing inno­va­tions such as autonomous vehi­cles or big tech com­pa­nies. But how many of you would link it to such estab­lish­ment sec­tors as wealth/asset man­age­ment or invest­ment banking?

I’m bet­ting they’re prob­a­bly not the first things you’d asso­ciate with the most inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy on the planet—yet they’re at the cut­ting edge of AI. With­in five years it’s thought that robo-advis­ers will account for £1.7 tril­lion of assets under man­age­ment. Accord­ing to PWC, 26 per­cent of asset and wealth man­age­ment firms already use AI to inform their big decisions.

Mak­ing expe­ri­ences the UBS way

One finan­cial ser­vices giant with big aspi­ra­tions in this area is UBS. The com­pa­ny sees AI and the relat­ed tech­nol­o­gy of Machine Learn­ing (ML) as its next step in trans­form­ing the expe­ri­ences it offers cus­tomers. Since UBS has excel­lent form in deliv­er­ing excep­tion­al cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, we should all pay atten­tion to what they’re doing.

Like all com­pa­nies in their sec­tor, UBS has had to man­age rapid trans­for­ma­tion at the hands of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. Per­haps the biggest change has been to the cus­tomer jour­ney. In the old days that jour­ney was lin­ear because client inter­ac­tions were large­ly face-to-face. Expe­ri­ences were direct and per­son­al and there­fore sim­ple to manage.

Dig­i­tal threw a very large stone into this pond. Today, the jour­ney is frac­tured, and cus­tomers may expe­ri­ence UBS in any num­ber of ways. It could be that they see a ban­ner ad or respond to a tweet; they could read a bit of dig­i­tal con­tent or view a cor­po­rate video. There are any num­ber of touch­points where the UBS brand expe­ri­ence will influ­ence the client. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning.

UBS has done well in link­ing up these expe­ri­ences using the Adobe Expe­ri­ence Cloud as a facil­i­ta­tor. It has thought care­ful­ly about the cus­tomer jour­ney and how its dif­fer­ent ele­ments can be deliv­ered seamlessly—whether that’s con­tent, social, web or even face-to-face inter­ac­tions. UBS has under­stood that our increas­ing­ly frag­ment­ed world demands a coher­ent cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, and they’re deliv­er­ing this vision with aplomb.

For me, the real excite­ment is in what comes next. UBS has a vision for a lean­er cus­tomer expe­ri­ence that’s intel­li­gent, pur­pose­ful and able to meet the needs of cus­tomers right on the nose. It’s all about using AI and ML to uncov­er the customer’s intent and then facil­i­tate more col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ships. For UBS it’s about mov­ing away from telling their cus­tomers sto­ries, to invit­ing cus­tomers to be a part of that story.

Watch this video to learn more about UBS

Keep­ing the human touch

What UBS has realised is that AI, ML and relat­ed tech­nolo­gies such as Nat­ur­al Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing (NLP) are about mak­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ences more human. Con­sumers get frus­trat­ed with tech­nol­o­gy because it often puts a bar­ri­er up between us and the brand. I’m sure all of you have been annoyed by a poor­ly designed web­site or frus­trat­ed when you haven’t been able to eas­i­ly access the infor­ma­tion you need. AI allows tech­nol­o­gy to mim­ic human traits. The frus­tra­tion we feel from hav­ing to relate to tech­nol­o­gy on its terms is sud­den­ly removed. Instead, tech­nol­o­gy relates to us on our terms.

There’s some­thing a lit­tle coun­ter­in­tu­itive at work here. The more advanced the tech­nolo­gies that com­pa­nies deploy in the name of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, the more tra­di­tion­al the expe­ri­ence becomes. His­tor­i­cal­ly all cus­tomer expe­ri­ences were one-to-one and per­son­al: only a decade or so ago if I want­ed to dis­cuss my port­fo­lio with my asset man­ag­er I’d meet them face-to-face. They would know all about me and my invest­ments since they would have per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty for my account.

The AI-enabled vir­tu­al agents of tomor­row will be able to repli­cate this lev­el of per­son­al engage­ment. I can imag­ine using just my voice to con­verse with an AI avatar that has real-time access to all my infor­ma­tion and knows my needs intu­itive­ly. Per­haps that’s what a brand will even­tu­al­ly become: a per­son­al con­nec­tion with an AI avatar that medi­ates your engage­ment with every ser­vice the bank has to offer.

It may sound like the stuff of sci­ence fic­tion, but we’re already see­ing exam­ples in action. For instance, last year UBS launched a SmartWealth robo-advis­er that uses AI and NLP to offer cus­tomers a dig­i­tal wealth man­age­ment ser­vice. This is the sort of con­ve­nient, per­son­alised, cus­tomer-cen­tric ser­vice that AI enables to be rolled out at scale.

The inno­va­tion leaders

To para­phrase Dylan, when it comes to finan­cial ser­vices, the times they are a changin’. Led by cus­tomer expe­ri­ence lead­ers like UBS, we’ll all soon rou­tine­ly inter­act with AI-enabled ser­vices and expe­ri­ences. Thanks to the robots, our finan­cial ser­vices will feel more intu­itive and human, and will be laser-focused on our indi­vid­ual needs. Keep your eye on the finan­cial sector—where it goes, the rest of us will follow.

Topics: Digital Transformation, FSI, ML, personalisation, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA