In a report authored by The Mastercard Foundation and BFA, Juntos is highlighted as a “Practical Superpower” for financial services providers (FSPs) in Africa. The report focuses on how African FSPs can partner with Fintechs to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in pragmatic ways to better serve mass market customers:
AI is typically defined as the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior, a definition which tends to evoke strong visions for the future in the form of either fix-all solutions or evil robot overlords. Here we intentionally take a more pragmatic approach, skirting the hype in favor of focusing on augmentation — rather than imitation — of human expertise, ingenuity, craftsmanship and intelligence.
Juntos partners with FSPs and MNOs to drive behavioral change in its customers entirely through mobile chat conversations. Behavioral experiments are tied to specific business goals, such as increasing savings deposits, engagement or reduced call center inquiries. Juntos’ carefully structured SMS conversations are analyzed on a daily basis with regression analysis and ML models to extract insights into what to say to which customers, and when to drive the desired behavior change.
The exploration of chatbots is a perfect opportunity for financial providers to partner with fintech companies that have invested in developing chat algorithms in local languages and dialects, are optimizing the tone and flow of the conversation, and have the teams in place to continue to refine and iterate based on an institution’s specific use cases.
As the report describes, Juntos takes a pragmatic approach combining human intelligence and technology to help financial institutions build trusting customer relationships. Human-centered design and behavioral economicsprinciples guide messaging strategy, automation enables conversations to be responsive at massive scale, and machine learning algorithms inform which customers should receive which content sequences. Taken together, these pillars make up a powerful platform. Here’s a helpful framework outlined by the report, where we’ve highlighted Juntos capabilities:
“Trust takes time, and sometimes it’s built in the small moments. Lots of the small moments then add up to the big moments.” – Melinda Gates
This quote should ring true for financial services providers. It’s easy to get caught up trying to perfect an individual touchpoint or one-off promotion, but that isolated approach obscures the big picture: building trust and long-term loyalty with customers.
Financial institutions are increasingly shifting their focus to improving customer journeys. Research shows that the accumulation of experiences that customers go through when they interact with your brand is far more important than any individual interaction. According to McKinsey & Company, successful projects that focus on improving customer journeys typically generate 5-10% revenue growth, as well as 15-25% cost reduction. On a larger scale, companies that provide exceptional experiences make more than 26% higher gross margins than their competitors.
Ultimately, Juntos exists to build trust by improving customer journeys. Our success is not based on any perfectly worded individual message. Instead, we build trust between customers and their financial institutions with long-term conversations. We help people set financial goals, educate them about account features, and create spaces for them to ask questions and provide feedback. Only after several months of this dialogue do we typically see meaningful behavior change.
You can see the interview about trust with Melinda Gates here, and read the full McKinsey report here.
Trust is at the center of every relationship. Whether it be a marriage, friendship, or relationship between a customer and her bank, trust is the foundation that everything else is built upon. Without it, the relationship will crumble.
Maxim Wheatley, Senior Director at TTEC, formerly the founding Chief Product Officer at LifeFuels, and current Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University’s business school, argues that trust is the new competitive currency. He makes a strong case for businesses to invest in tools and technology that improve customer experiences. When people view their brands as reliable partners rather than sales-hungry corporations, they will reward them with long-term loyalty:
I believe that the companies that will weather future competition and accelerating market-forces with the most success will invariably be those that have built the most equity with their customers in experience, trust, and safety. These will be companies that continue to invest in the aforementioned, and don’t see these attributes as ‘nice-to-haves’ and cost-centers, but instead see them as fundamental components of a legitimate enterprise.
According to Wheatley, business leaders need to ask themselves the following four critical questions:
“What are we doing to build trust with our customers?”
“How is customer information being secured and protected?”
“Do our customers have good reason to believe they are cared for?”
“Are we accessible to our customers where, when, and how they want to access us?”
Juntos has released a White Paper about building digital relationships in financial services. Authored in partnership with AccessBank Tanzania and Zoona Zambia, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the White Paper dives into best practices for building trust-based relationships at scale, and outlines the business case for doing so. Here’s a quick excerpt from the report:
A thriving mass market financial services industry in the future will have strong digital customer relationships at the center. The value of those relationships to financial institutions will be evident in customer loyalty, usage, and lifetime value. Customers will begin to see their FSPs as partners in life, decisions, and planning. When customer relationships sit at the center of a strategy, all other customer interactions benefit – making marketing, social media and customer support more efficient and profitable.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank, has co-authored a report with the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and CreditEase focused on financial inclusion in the digital age. The report recognizes Juntos as one of 100 innovative Fintech companies that are bringing new solutions and technologies to market that promote stronger financial health in households around the world.
Juntos, which offers an automated mobile messaging platform to build stronger relationships between customers and their financial institutions, appears in the “Savings and Financial Planning” category of the list. According to the authors, the companies on its list are leading a revolution:
A financial revolution is taking place around the globe, powered by mobile phones, access to new data, technological innovations and changing mindsets of users of financial services. We are witnessing the emergence of ‘for-profit, mission-driven’ financial technology (Fintech) players focused on enabling greater financial inclusion. These Fintech companies are mitigating frictions by designing novel products or following innovative business strategies, with the common end goal of enhancing financial inclusion. They are increasing the financial capacities and financial health of households and organizations worldwide.
Signing up for a bank account or other financial product is just the first step in a newly banked customer’s journey. Juntos partners with banks to digitally engage users in two-way conversations that develop the knowledge, confidence, and trust needed to actually use their accounts. True participation in the digital economy empowers customers to securely access funds, grow savings, and build credit.
The report highlights a range of other innovative organizations, including Credit Karma, GoFundMe, Kabbage, Nerdwallet, and Stripe, among others. You can read the full report here.