The current landscape of the banking industry has shifted enormously in the last five years. Digital banking solutions have helped banks and credit unions across the nation meet the increasing communication and service needs of their customers at any time and from any location.                 

Statista predicts that the number of digital banking users in the U.S. in 2021 will increase to 161.6 million — evident of its popularity among today’s tech-savvy, mobile device-equipped consumers. As digital banking continues to boom and customers continue to crave more flexible and convenient communication with their bank or credit union, unified communications technology is becoming a more critical component of the digital banking industry.

Looking ahead to 2021, emerging trends that banking and credit union executives should have top of mind in this increasing shift include artificial intelligence (AI), improvements in dashboards/portals and security enhancements to protect payment card industry (PCI) data.

1) AI is Becoming a Reality

Artificial Intelligence has long been in the future vision of unified communications solutions — almost as if such technology was a mere pipedream. While more advanced AI capabilities are yet to be developed and implemented, chatbot technology has already been introduced to the digital banking world. For example, banks are beginning to use chatbots to assist customers with basic banking tasks such as paying bills, checking account balances or transferring funds between checking and savings accounts — all done simply by sending a text message from the customer’s mobile device. This type of functionality is highly valued by today’s consumers, who expect to be able to use technology to accomplish basic transactions on their own.

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Chatbot technology not only helps banks and credit unions provide an enhanced level of service to their customers, but also reduces costs. A recent report produced by Juniper Research in July found that chatbots will deliver $11 billion in annual cost savings for banking organizations by 2023. Chatbot technology will continue to be implemented by banks and credit unions across the nation in the year ahead with a goal of enhancing customer experience.

2) Improved Dashboards & Portals for UC Solutions

As more banking transactions continue to occur digitally through UC solutions (meaning decreased foot traffic in branches and increased traffic on applications and websites), the dashboards and portals that capture that information will continue to improve in order to provide organizations with the data they need to service their customers appropriately. Dashboards that measure and monitor interactions on the web offer banks and credit unions both real-time and historical data for service level agreement (SLA) monitoring.

In addition to AI’s larger footprint in banking call centers, sentiment analysis features will be on the rise in the coming years. Sentiment analysis — features which identify emotion in a customer’s voice or text — are already beginning to appear in AI technology. Sentiment analysis capabilities will continue to evolve, likely including intelligent routing of sessions to better match the agent to the customer based on level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction present in the customer’s initial inquiry to the system.

3) Increased Prioritization of Security

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reported in January 2018 that the number of cyberattacks against financial services companies has risen by more than 80 percent in the last year. As advancements in technology continue to couple with an increased threat of cyberattacks, security is also of the utmost importance for any future trend.

With so many exciting new technological capabilities that will surely continue to enhance customer service in 2021, banks and credit unions must be diligent in selecting vendors with solutions that place security as the highest priority to protect sensitive customer data.

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