Money20/20 day 3 dispatch: The rise of chatbots

The customer experience took center stage on Tuesday at Money20/20.

“Our card members are living their lives in one continuous experience,” said Denise Pickett, President of U.S. Consumer Products & Services, American Express. “Their last great experience will be the benchmark upon which all future services and experiences will be measured.”

We carry that same mindset throughout the Marqeta platform. We want to enable simple, intuitive, secure interfaces so that our customers can focus on what they do best. And, indeed, what customers want to do is to use payments in ways the surprise and delight their own customers.

Denise discussed American Express’ Pay It Plan It initiative, a mobile feature that gives card members the ability to pay for specific items over time. The increased flexibility “puts control back into the customer’s hands,” she said, also citing Amex’s development of a Facebook Messenger chatbot for cardholders.

She wasn’t alone in addressing the opportunity of messaging apps as an exciting consumer interface for financial services firms.

Facebook’s Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Messenger, said one of the aims of Messenger is to connect people with businesses in ways that will deliver more value to both consumers and businesses. His colleague, Kahina Van Dyke, who oversees financial services partnerships for Messenger, said payments in Messenger are taking off because they’ve stripped the complexity of payments down into just a couple of clicks: “We’re obsessive about the customer experience and simplifying the customer experience is important.”

LendingClub CEO Scott Sanborn also noted most people don’t want to deal with their financial service providers so it’s dependent on companies like his to make it easier for people to manage their financial profiles.

Robert Schiff and Dan Stephens, two partners at McKinsey who lead the firm’s customer experience center for banking, said banks have improved their customer experience rankings, citing a recent Temkin Experience Ratings survey, during the past several years moreso than almost any other industry — a positive no doubt — but that a huge gap still exists if you compare banks against leaders in customer experience more broadly, such as streaming media services.

And this is exactly what Amex’s Denise Pickett was talking about. All of us as individuals now expect more from the brands we use and are more willing to compare the experience of one brand vs another, even if unrelated. This is true with consumer products as much as it is with B2B payments technology like ours.

“The world is changing,” said Jim McCarthy, global head of innovation and strategic partnerships for Visa. He talked about several changes Visa has made to its own business that enable it to develop products that bring be truly customer centric, including providing open tech platforms. “It’s an API-first mentality,” he said. “We all need to pay attention to human centric design.”

We couldn’t agree more.

By Tracy Kraft, VP of Marketing