Cognitive solutions creating closer relationships with banking customers

The financial environment is changing quickly. The world in which banks make money by converting short-term savings to long-term loans is disappearing. To succeed, banks need to sell a more diverse set of products while maintaining a close relationship with their customers.

Laurent Prud’hon, head of the Cognitive Factory team at Crédit Mutuel, says artificial intelligence (AI) is helping the French bank stay relevant with its online customers. “This relationship [between the bank and its customers] is always remote through a digital channel. And at the same time, our advisors need to sell more and more products, more and more complex products in a complex regulated environment,” he adds. “And so, they need cognitive solutions to help them manage all these requests through many channels and to answer more efficiently to their clients.”

He thinks the cognitive AI solutions that Crédit Mutuel is deploying, such as conversational assistance, will create “a more natural and easy relation with our customers. We are in a complex world. We want to make things easy and simple for them.”

 

Question: How has the way that you interact with your customers changed over time?

Laurent: The main change in our relationship with our customers is that they don’t go to branches anymore, and most of our customers don’t want to interact with their banker at all. So, they interact through our mobile apps, through our websites, through the phone, and we need to put a lot of technology to enable these kinds of seamless experiences, but at the same time to keep the human relationship between an advisor and customer, and that’s the challenge.

Question: How do you let your partners, and specifically IBM, become part of your team so they better understand your customers and how to use our technology and services?

Laurent: So, in our case it’s really key that our partners at IBM are embedded in our teams, and if you come in our offices, you cannot distinguish who is who. So they forget for a few hours that they are IBM, and they really embrace our requirements, our needs, our context because it’s useless to try to replicate exactly what was done elsewhere

Question: Can you talk about the people of IBM and what they mean to you?

Laurent: Yes. What’s more important, the most important part of our partnership is really not about technology. It’s really about people, the skills they bring to the table. For us, it’s the most important factor that enabled us to deploy AI in our company.

Question: How would you describe your work with IBM and that impact on your customer?

Laurent: IBM really brought us a new perspective on the user experience, brought us young people with an eye for these things … like design thinking to put everybody around the table and really reinvent the user experience end to end.