Podcast: FIs should view AI as a team member
Financial institutions can treat AI as a team member in need of training rather than a tool that needs monitoring.
“The banks and credit unions who really get [AI] right are the ones who are treating AI more like they would treat onboarding a new team member,” Lindsay Soergel, chief product and experience officer at fintech Kasisto, said on this episode of “The Buzz” podcast.
Think of AI as one person who has a lot of knowledge, who needs to be trained, developed and understood to become a brand ambassador, she said.
Once trained and trusted, financial institutions can look to AI to build client relationships, answer client questions and represent a bank’s brand with personality that has been embedded into the technology, Soergel said.
Listen as Kasisto’s Soergel discusses intelligent digital assistants, treating AI as a team member and how FIs can bring personality into the technology.
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The following is a transcript generated by AI technology that has been lightly edited but still contains errors.
Hello and welcome to The Buzz a bank automation news podcast. Today is August 31 2023. Joining me today to discuss how FIS can change their mindset when approaching AI and intelligent digital assistants is Lindsay Soergel, Chief Product Officer at Kasisto. She has background in both FinTech and banking, having worked as a technology leader at both PNC and SunTrust Banks.Lindsay Soergel 0:25
Thank you, Whitney. It’s, it’s great to join you today on The Buzz. I’m Lindsay Soergel. I’m the chief experience officer at Kasisto and I focus on connecting our products and services with our financial institution clients, and with their customers and members. And we do that all over the world. We’re fortunate enough to have customers in 16 different countries. I’ve worked in web technology for more than 30 years, and I’ve worked in the digital banking industry since the late 1990s. So it’s been a while managed digital banking and cross channel experience teams at PNC and SunTrust banks and an NCR. And I’ve built FinTech businesses at Equifax, and Deluxe. So I guess, all of my roles have kind of focused on the goal of connecting people with their finances through data and technology. So when I found consistent I thought it was a dream world, you know, the, it’s a very next logical step in my career. And we focus at Cisco on making sure that people are armed with information that helps them to make smarter financial decisions. And, and that’s what their purpose of this organization has always been. It’s a conversational and generative artificial intelligence provider. We focus exclusively on financial services. We build intelligent digital assistants, and other types of AI products come because Cisco has been around for a while, we got our start back in 2013, at the Stanford Research Institute, where Siri was was born, and our tech stack is rooted in the same tech stack as Siri, we’re headquartered in New York, we have about 50 banking clients all over the world. And our customers range from the largest institutions like JPMC and Westpac and Standard Chartered to some of the smallest community banks and credit unions out there. We’ve got about 35, community banks and credit unions now. And that number is growing every week.Whitney McDonald 2:35
So thank you so much for being here and explaining your background. As you had mentioned, we’re going to talk through AI intelligent digital assistance. But before we get into all of that, I’d like if you could just set the scene here by talking through the notion of combining artificial intelligence and human teams and what financial institutions can learn from that approach from Francisco?
Lindsay Soergel 2:57
Sure. Well, I guess, by definition, pretty much every FinTech provider, focuses on building tools, that you’ll either help bankers do their jobs better or help consumers do banking better, or both, right. So ecosystem, we do that. And I guess in that sense, we’re like other fintechs. But the technology that we produce is very different from other software tools. In fact, I would argue, and I often do argue that it’s not a tool at all, it is much more like a teammate. And I actually had to learn that for myself. When I joined Cisco, I thought, you know, I’m coming in with a lot of banking experience, a lot of digital banking experience, I know pretty much what you need to know about digital banking systems. This is a really cool, neat, new thing. But I quickly realized that there is a very clear distinction between financial institutions who are finding success with conversational AI, and those that are still kind of struggling to make it work for them. And the difference was that the ones who are maybe struggling a little bit having some challenges are treating the AI just like they would treat any other digital or mobile banking, app deployment, right, any other sort of automation project. And right, these are smart people, they’ve got 20 plus years successfully deploying all kinds of self service software, just like I had, and they are often imagining that with AI, we’re building just another new self service channel. You know, we’re our goal is to perfectly automate a transaction or multiple transactions, so that you never have to interact with a human. So if If I’m a self service oriented consumer, I can transact completely by myself independent of an assistant of any kind. But that knowledge is actually what gets in the way of success with AI. The banks and credit unions who really sort of get this right, are the ones who are treating AI, more like they would treat onboarding a new team member. And that was a huge epiphany for me. You know, I realized that it was the non digital banking experts, who were playing a huge role in the success of AI. We have a client at Cisco, one of our faves, Jean Fichte, and holds from Mary West Credit Union out on the West Coast, in I thought he put it really well. He says, I think of AI, as this one amazing person with this really huge brain and with access to all the knowledge. And that, I think, is exactly what we mean when we talk about ai plus human teams. So when you’re introducing AI to your business, I think it really would be wise to lean on the people at your financial institution who understand the people interactions, understand the assistant channels, and more so than even the self service channels. You lean on your marketing team, especially the brand folks and the experienced designers, the people who think about the ways that your frontline staff, with their words and with their interaction and with their personalities can create a really welcoming experience for folks who need answers. Oftentimes, the best customer care and member care managers, or the best branch managers play a key role in creating a successful AI deployment. These are the folks right, because they’re, they’re great at onboarding, and training, and developing successful customer facing teammates, who then turn into great ambassadors for the brand. And so that’s the mindset that you’ve got to have. I think that that not that AI is a tool for your team, but that AI is really working with your team, you know, kind of hand in hand, I guess. I guess AI doesn’t have hands. But if you know if aI had hands will be working hand in hand with your team. And so that mindset is what really helps the most successful teams to get up and, and working faster, you’re hiring a new teammate just happens to be AI, you’re introducing them to their colleagues on the team, you want to create seamless relationships between the two good, collegial working relationships. You want those existing folks, whether they’re in the contact center, or in the marketing team, or wherever they are, you want them training the new kid, assign a good mentor to the new employee, right? Make sure they understand what are your expectations for how you’ll be communicating with consumers? What are your practices? What are your brand standards, you train them, and then you let them go to work, just the way you would let an employee go to work, right? You don’t QA them for three months, you know, you know, you don’t necessarily spend all the time in the weeds with with making sure the codes perfect. You watch them, and you give them tips, but but then you let them go to work.
Whitney McDonald 8:47
Now you talk through changing that mindset, not necessarily having AI as this new tech tool, but treating it like part of your team you just talked through working hand in hand. Maybe we can talk through how Christo has put this into practice, more specifically within its intelligent digital assistant, how do you achieve this? This approach?
Lindsay Soergel 9:12
Yeah, I think there are a couple of ways that we really work hard to make sure that we’re helping our financial institution clients to create an appreciation for ai plus human is generally people consider chatbots traditionally, to be the domain of the contact center, and the customer service teams. And there is absolutely no question that the contact center is a very key connection point for the digital assistant. You know, if you think about even the most digitally savvy, very self service oriented customers, they’re going to want to chat with a human from time to time. So one thing we’ve done is to make certain that our digital assistants are integrated out of the box with live chat experiences. So we come pre integrated with financial chat systems like Link live or glia, and other ones out there. And so when a consumer does need to shift from that digital realm, over into the human assisted realm, or vice versa, the entire chat conversations can be passed between the digital assistant and the live chat, the human agent. And that can be done without any Miss missing a BT at all for the from the consumers perspective. But we’re also I think, even more concerned, because Cisco about the less digitally savvy customers, the folks who maybe wanted to speak with a human, but they weren’t able to, because they were directed to the digital assistant as a first stop, or they weren’t able to wait in a call queue. And that’s where I think our technology, and our onboarding process is really focused on how can we address that particular need? So we spent a lot of time working with bankers, who are in the process of thinking through what will be success? what will success look like, in their final implementation in their final introduction of their new digital teammate? And we asked them to consider how how can the digital assistant be used to help that group of traditionally maybe digitally averse consumers be more at ease when they’re interacting? Maybe it’s the first time with a digital assistant or Chatbot. Maybe they have a preconceived bad experience with other solutions that weren’t great. So, you know, what’s that first greeting? Like? Is the user interface in any way intimidating? Or is it inviting, helpful, pleasant? Is it personable? Is it conversational? And, you know, I think one of the best ways that that the bankers can kind of think through this process is to think about what’s the right personality? For our digital assistant? What are the characteristics that would really appeal to our community audience? Or to if it’s a larger financial institution, or one that serves multiple audiences, to the various audiences that we serve? What What should that unique personality be?
Whitney McDonald 12:38
Now to expand on that idea, a little bit of bringing personality into the IDA? How do you achieve achieve that? What is the technology look like to to bring human like interaction into something that is a digital tool?
Lindsay Soergel 12:57
Yeah, I mean, so I think the first thing, when when you’re looking to create a relationship, is to not necessarily start with the technology, I when I will, I will talk about how we all the technology works and enables this, but it’s important that the FYI, just sort of start with the consumer first. Think about the process of banking, and how it can sometimes be intimidating to certain sorts of audiences. And, and not necessarily audiences that are not tech savvy, or already tech savvy, where you might have young people who are just starting out in the world and are not intimidated by tech, but are intimidated by banking. Or you might have you know, folks who are particularly astute and savvy in retail banking, but they’re just about to open a new business, and they’ve got some questions, and they feel a little bit like a Rube all of a sudden, you might have a person who’s changing financial products and needs advice, right? Or folks who’ve moved to maybe maybe just moved to the states are learning our financial system, etc. Right? So there’s, there’s all different sorts of reasons for folks to need a digital assistant. And so I think we would encourage our banking clients to stop and think about their community of users, and to think about what are all the sorts of issues and challenges that they are that their digital assistant and its personality needs to solve? So first of all, just basic good old fashion outside in consumer centric design, right, that we’ve all been thinking of so those techniques around, you know, sort of usability and, and user focused design really pay off Um, our customers tell us that increasingly, a lot of consumers in those some of those segments that I kind of ran through there, they’re using the digital assistant as a starting point. So it’s a way of gathering some facts and information before they’re ready to walk into a branch and sit down across from a banker who can help them with more complex transactions, or maybe they’re going to call up somebody in the call center to initiate a transaction, but the IDA becomes a place for them to start. And, and when that’s the case, those customers definitely are not looking for a flat, kind of traditional chatbot robotic interaction. So it would be wrong to sit there and think, you know, here are the here’s the question, here is the answer. We want to think about what kind of tone do we want to imbue into that interaction? And our tool, our content management tool, allows our banking clients to figure out exactly what it would be what are the kinds of ways that would put their customer base at ease? How can I help them to feel more comfortable? You know, so, if a customer is looking for a very financially literate conversation, and a helpful, intelligent assistant, the digital assistant can can deliver that. So that right what’s involved in that there’s, there’s an AI piece of it, and a natural language, understanding piece of it on the technology side, that allows us to recognize all the various ways that a customer consumer may be asking a certain sort of question. And then there is the part that’s up to the banker to think about, how do we want to respond? Are we a very professional type of brand, are we more lighthearted type of brand, right? And so that’s how a little bit of digital personality gets imbued into the the idea, I would say, the most successful financial institutions to embrace the capabilities of Chi Chi’s our platform. And our and our tools, our content management tools? are the ones who are thinking about that first greeting? And what are the characteristics of the personality that they want to highlight for their members and customers? And I’m always fascinated by the fact that there’s really no one right way to apply the technology. Digital Assistant for a private wealth oriented bank in southeastern US, is going to be very different from the persona that you know, a digital only FY in the Pacific West, that maybe only tailors to a younger clientele is going to deploy.
Whitney McDonald 18:07
Now, as we talk through AI driven technology daily, you see updates to what AI can do, how does the system make sure that that’s all being updated? Within its platform as well? How do you stay up to date with something that is changing so quickly?
Lindsay Soergel 18:26
Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean, we are, I suppose we do it in a couple of different ways. And it requires keeping pace both technically. And right, from a regulatory standpoint, and just from the standpoint of what are bankers looking to do? What are what ideas are they having? What are they struggling with? And so the most important thing that we’re doing is we’re talking to as many bankers every single day as we can we literally, I can’t think of a day in the past six months, that we have not been on the line with customers, prospects of financial institutions, large and small, just to understand, what are you trying to do? Where do you see the opportunity? Across your segments? Across your use cases? Are there different sorts of things that you’re looking to do? And it’s just because the tech is so new, it is evolving every single day. And so we we want to keep pulse on what our very creative, innovative clients are thinking about. And as they’re developing new concerns or new questions, it’s very likely that we have spoken with some other client who may have worked with us to already solve that particular challenge.
Whitney McDonald 19:55
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai