For many financial institutions, consumer credit risk is the biggest risk on their balance sheets. This is underscored by the reality that credit risk is the biggest cause of bank failures, according to Van Greuning and Bratanovik of the World Bank.
To effectively manage credit risk – specifically consumer credit risk – companies in banking and finance need to accurately assess an individual’s ability to pay back a loan on time and in full. This means they need rich and accurate data to make the right judgements. But even with advances in technology and digital transformation, financial institutions still face challenges with data for credit risk management.
How AI technology is transforming risk management
Thankfully, artificial intelligence is changing how companies manage consumer credit risk. Voice AI technology is particularly helpful in unlocking data that has already been collected but just sits in storage. One prime example is customer call recordings, which are stored as voice data. While these recordings may be useful as reference, much of them sit as unstructured data that take time to sort and analyze. Recordings are usually not used or reviewed except for quality checks and investigations into specific incidents.
With AI technology, rich customer information can be extracted from this previously untapped resource – data that may be useful for credit risk assessments. Artificial intelligence enables call recordings to be quickly transcribed and converted into structured data, which can then be used for analytics. Within all that new data would be signals or keywords related to risk management.
Detecting intent with natural language understanding
Transcribing and structuring voice data is only the first step in making use of conversational AI capabilities. One of voice AI’s more powerful capabilities is intention detection – figuring out what a customer plans or wants to do, based on verbal cues. Questions like “How much do I owe again?” or “What’s the minimum amount due?” can signal an intention to settle the account soon. When the AI neural engine detects these words, it can automatically tag the caller as “willing to pay” and proceed to obtain a commitment date on payment.
Intention detection is useful for less common circumstances, too. Keywords like “family emergency” or “job loss” can signal personal distress, and the AI engine can then tag the call as “special case”. The call can be routed to a live human agent, who can then talk the customer through workable options to refinance their debt. This helps banks and financial institutions take a more humane approach towards their customers who might be going through a rough patch. It’s a win-win situation: customers feel cared for, and the finance company gets an early opportunity to rebalance its risk portfolio.
Using data analytics to inform strategy
Another key benefit of having calls tagged automatically by AI is the ability to notice patterns as they arise. For instance, if a significant number of calls have been tagged with “don’t know how to pay”, the bank can deploy an information campaign on payment modes. This reduces the risk of non-payment for future customers who may struggle with how to pay their bills online or offline.
What’s more, AI labels can be customized based on business patterns. Companies can choose any number of tags to attach to their voice data, using the most relevant information that can shape their decision-making. Tags can vary from committed payment dates – which help companies follow-up on payments – to payment modes, which inform the bank which channels are more effective for collections.
With more data in their hands, banks can also take a wider view of their risk portfolio and recalibrate their strategy in a more proactive manner. Tags such as “invalid number” or “uncontactable” can signal a bad debt, and keep companies from wasting time on chasing down a non-payer.
The use of smart tags and automatic labeling have already helped a number of fintech companies and traditional banks optimize their debt collections. And these are only some of the ways artificial intelligence can help streamline financial operations.