If you’ve had enough of being put on hold, speaking to call centres in India or waiting for that promised call back on your query from people who never call back; you are probably ready for a chatbot. Chatbots have arrived in South Africa and are kicking off in financial services.
Chatbots are life-like text-based online conversations to connect businesses with their customers. These conversations are possible on websites, Facebook messenger or on apps. They are intelligent conversations made possible through artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you think spending 45 minutes on the phone is absurd to take out car insurance, FinChatBot can do this in less than five minutes on Facebook messenger. Prepare yourself for a snappy service that only a chatbot can provide.
Most South Africans are using their mobile devices to chat on messaging platforms and they prefer to interact via messaging to calling customer service centres. FinChatBot CEO and co-founder, Antoine Paillusseau says, “Chatbots will increase accessibility to financial services by making the customer experience faster and more convenient using the mediums that consumers prefer any time of night or day. Using chatbots, financial services providers are able to increase their conversion rates, reduce operational costs and gather more data about customers.”
“Consumers spend most of their time on messaging apps. FinChatBot embeds financial services in these favourite apps. You may want to know your account balance or start a claim, in fact, the most popular reasons customers contact call centres can usually be automated through a chatbot conversation.” While older chatbots were conversations based on a set of rules, FinChatBot develops advanced versions using machine learning which adapts to customer behaviour, making conversations very life-like. The advanced bots understand language and they get smarter as they learn from human conversations. Chatbots are ideal for the financial services industry offering quotations, sales, customer service and claims. FinChatBot is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs and the fintech investment arm of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings.
Dominique Collett, Head of AlphaCode, highlights: “Chatbots are a real opportunity for the financial services industry with 80% of banks viewing them as an opportunity, according to The Financial Brand. They engage customers any time of day or night more accurately and at a significantly lower cost than a human counterpart. This is important in a digital always-on world where customers, particularly millennials, want to engage with financial services providers in a relevant way. FinChatBot has identified this opportunity to help banks and insurers address customer engagement in a digital, cost friendly way.”
The business, which was bootstrapped initially, has attracted investment from Richard Marsden, an angel investor active in the business.
The team behind FinChatBot has forty years of experience in the online financial industry, software development and startup space. The business, which started this past year, is showing rapid growth due to the demand for its services. Clients include two major South African insurers, a telecoms operator and one of the big four banks. It has opened offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Paris and has a reseller arrangement in Morocco. Enquiries have been received from Kenya and Nigeria.
FinChatBot has differentiated itself from competitors by only focusing on the financial services industry to best meet these specific needs. Explain Paillusseau, “We have a tailor-made approach to guide our clients to embrace a new way of acquiring and retaining customers thanks to AI-powered conversations.”