Imagine a website so intelligent it could understand all your financial goals and give you the optimal advice you need to accomplish them. Does that sound like science fiction? Well, artificial intelligence (AI) is making sci fi reality for credit union website designs.

Artificial intelligence enables machines to interact with humans in ways that mimic human communication and understanding. In the case of credit union website design, this might look like a “bot” that’s designed to answer your questions and help work through concerns.

What would this look like for a credit union? Picture this scenario:

Human: I want to save an emergency fund

Bot: Good thinking. You should save enough money to cover 6 months worth of expenses without having any income. If you were to open an account today, how much money could you deposit into a savings account?

Human: $0

Bot: In that case, I recommend you start with our Regular Savings account. It’s free and has no minimum balance. Once you’ve saved $5,000, switch to our Money Market Savings account to get a higher interest rate. What questions do you have?

Human: Why switch to a Money Market account?

Bot: Money Market Savings accounts earn more interest than Regular Savings accounts while keeping your money liquid (i.e., you can withdraw money at any time).

Human: Makes sense

Bot: Want to get started? I can help you open a Regular Savings account in about 5 minutes.

To the average credit union, this kind of AI technology might seem out of reach because of the cost to implement it; perhaps something only big banks could afford. However, that’s changing. BloomCU recently released Aurora with the launch Spirit of Alaska’s new website. Aurora is a very simple chatbot on spiritofak.com’s homepage that intelligently guides users through Spirit’s products and services.

“Websites have been static, like online brochures, since the 90s,” said Derik Krauss, BloomCU’s Cofounder. “Now, chatbots can mimic human interactions. By asking questions, chatbots like Aurora can understand users and help people find what they’re looking for.”

“AI still has a very long way to go before it will have general intelligence,” Derik continues. “That’s why people get frustrated with AI assistants like Siri. People can ask Siri anything, so they expect her to respond intelligently and are disappointed when she doesn’t. Instead, if you limit the scope and give AI a manageable task, AI can be extremely useful for credit union websites.”

Many organizations—like Boeing Employees Credit Union, Alaska Air, and Progressive—use chatbots and conversational user interfaces to simplify and humanize websites. At BloomCU, we get quite a few inquiries about our chatbot and real-time personalization technologies. More and more credit unions are realizing the powerful part AI can play in a credit union website design.

3 Reasons AI Is a Game Changer

There are at least three reasons we believe artificial intelligence is a game changer for credit union website design.

1. AI can pinpoint users’ actual goals

Understanding users’ goals is the first step in helping them. Unlike a static site, AI can ask users questions to understand their goals. Users’ responses then directly guide the AI’s next message.

AI can bridge knowledge gaps for website visitors. Many times, users don’t know what they are looking for. Consider the conversation outlined earlier where the user wanted to save an emergency fund. The best account for the user right now is a Regular Savings account, but the user may not have known that without chatting with the bot.

2. AI reduces financial intimidation

Ignorance is intimidating. In 2014, the Atlantic reported that 70% of Americans could not pass a basic test on financial principles. Apparently, the supermajority of Americans don’t understand financial terms or the options available to them.

The purpose of any credit union is to help its members achieve financial success. Accordingly, credit unions’ websites should empower users to find information, make sound financial decisions, and take action.

Again, AI can bridge the knowledge gap through direct communication. Humans can ask questions and bots can give answers. That’s exactly what Jenn does on alaskaair.com.

“I think education and timely advice is the best tool for helping people make good financial decisions,” said Ryan Harmon, BloomCU’s Creative Director, “And I believe AI is the best method of delivering educational information at scale.”

3. AI reduces the burden on customer service

Any customer service rep knows call centers tend to address the same questions and concerns over and over again. If your call center is getting overwhelmed by users who can’t find information on your website, then AI might just be the answer. AI gives skittish users more facilitated, interactive experiences than typical, static websites can provide.

Users aren’t opposed to looking up things themselves. In a study by Coleman Parkes, 40% of people who contact call centers first looked for answers via some sort of self-service, such as an online search. However, in order for a user to avoid the call center altogether, their experience needs to be guided enough that it does not become frustrating.  

Artificial intelligence may not be the most conventional way to connect with your customers, but since when has conventional always been right? Derik Krauss concluded his thoughts about Aurora, BloomCU’s new bot:

Aurora makes Spirit of Alaska’s new website one of the most innovative credit union websites in the world. Artificial intelligence is the future because it can give websites the capacity to understand humans the way humans understand humans. The ability to understand is a revolutionary leap that bridges the gap between technology and humanity.

 

 

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