How AI can help us deliver empathy when customers need us the most

When people think about artificial intelligence (AI), they tend to think about machines, digital processes and technology.

They don't often think about empathy.

But the truth is that AI, combined with human-centric design, has the power to help financial institutions create a more personalized banking experience for their customers that addresses their unique financial needs.

We know the banking habits of Canadians have changed. More than two-thirds of Canadians conduct their day-to-day banking digitally using online and mobile technologies, while close to half of Canadians say they are visiting their branches less often. In fact, 42 per cent of Canadians state that their use of in-branch banking has dropped. This shift means that financial institutions must find new ways to connect with their customers and become more agile in identifying their needs, as well as opportunities to serve.

Last May, I had a chance to speak at the FinovateSpring event in Santa Clara, California, where I met with some of the brightest minds working in the technology and financial services industries and shared TD's vision for an empathetic, AI-driven age of customer experience.

Our strategy is to use the principles of human-centric design—putting the customer at the centre of the product innovation process, and sometimes even having customers co-create with us—in order to do a better job of understanding their experience and then enabling it with AI.

AI is helping us evolve many of our current platforms. For example, it will influence our insurance business by helping customers file a claims form by auto-filling what the costs will likely be. This is a very customer-centric approach, if, for example, you've been in an accident and are at the side of the road. It's also empathetic because it helps customers focus on what matters most (their safety) in that moment.

With AI and other data-driven innovations, we are now able to glean deeper insights into the needs of our customers and develop more meaningful relationships, even in a digital-first world. By analyzing complex patterns and interpreting results quickly, we believe AI and other digital technologies will help us make recommendations during key financial advice moments for our customers. These technologies will also help us continue to evolve and serve or customers better – for example, using automation to make it easier to apply for a loan, streamline our own internal processes or give our advisors access to richer amounts of customer experience data.

The promise of these technologies is to help us understand our customers in the moment as they make real-time financial decisions (as they think about the kind of house they want to buy or when they start considering retirement). Genuine, empathetic connections can be made more easily when you clear away time consuming processes, which is especially important when it comes to being sensitive to real-life moments where we have an opportunity to give advice.

AI enables us to deliver more empathy and humanity into the customer journey, bringing us closer to our customers than ever before.

Imran Khan

Vice President of Digital Customer Experience

TD Bank Group