Fintech and the Need for Ethical Sales Enablement

By Nigel Cannings is co-founder and CTO of Intelligent Voice.

There have always been some questions about the ethics behind sales enablement strategies. While producing the best results for businesses, sales enablement has to be carefully monitored for compliance. That is to ensure that the customer’s best interests are always front and centre. The difficulty is that with ever more sophisticated technology facilitating sales enablement, it can be easy to lose track of ethics. In Fintech, perhaps more than anywhere else, ethics have to be a priority. 

The importance of ethical sales enablement in fintech

ethical sales enablement
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Financial decisions can be life-changing. Even with the best of intentions, a persuasive sales agent supported by advanced sales enablement technology could be responsible for encouraging vulnerable or ill-informed people to make decisions with the potential to have serious financial ramifications. This is important because research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has shown that as many as 46% of adults display one or more characteristics of vulnerability at one time or another. 

Characterised by a range of emotional and practical consequences, vulnerability can take a variety of forms. Including high-stress levels, lack of perspective, feeling dismissive in regard to risk-taking, poor decision-making, and the inability to foresee the likely consequences of any decisions. Anything from a negative life event to a health condition can cause this state. It can affect anyone at any time. Underscoring the fluidity of vulnerability, and the importance of being able to identify it when it arises. Not least in a financial context. 

How can fintech ensure sales enablement is practised ethically?

The key to ensuring ethical sales enablement is the ability to identify potentially vulnerable customers at the point of contact and so far, speech AI is proving to be the most efficient means of doing this. 

Until about five years ago, speech AI had a very limited application. Deploying rudimentary keyword flagging technology allowed for the review of recorded interactions. But it could only identify problems after the fact. Contemporary speech tech has the ability to handle a far wider remit.

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With the right technology behind it, speech AI is now capable of working in real and near real-time. Not just actively analysing verbal content, but highlighting speech features. Does the speaker appear hesitant or vague? Are they exhibiting any reluctance to commit, or even to talk? Do they have any disfluencies? Any of these issues could be an indication of vulnerability. With artificial intelligence working to identify these speech features and inform sales agents of their presence, businesses are armed to not only protect themselves against compliance failures but to provide the very best service for every one of their customers. Responsive sales enablement technology either provides altered on-screen prompts, suited to the individual customer, or highlights the situation to the call handler, enabling them to pass the call on to a more experienced colleague. 

How does speech AI work in sales enablement?

Speech AI has advanced in a variety of ways in recent years. But one of the most important developments has been Natural Language Processing (NLP). As the name implies, the technology is built around an algorithm that allows computers to understand human language. Consider not just what someone says, but also how they say it. And in doing so, it is providing context – including intent and sentiment – for every interaction. 

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It is this, combined with Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), that allows for the automatic identification of vulnerable customers in real time, but that’s not the only reason for adoption. 

Beyond ethics

Speech AI’s role within ethical sales enablement is quickly becoming established. It is one of the safest ways to manage the identification and support of potentially vulnerable customers but it has other benefits too. 

Some sectors of fintech are deploying speech AI for fraud detection. Using the same speech analysis process, it can identify the characteristics of dishonest speech. It can cross-reference previous interactions for any inconsistencies – in tone, manner, or story and it can alert telephone or video operatives when it detects anything that may require further investigation. 

Other sectors are using speech AI purely to enhance sales. Although tremendously helpful, standard sales enablement isn’t cheap or easy, the processes can be complex. The demands on employees high, with a lot of training necessary, while data provision can be as distracting as it is helpful. 

With speech AI, sales enablement provides responsive, real-time data and insights. It can improve the customer experience, by helping sales operatives to change their approach, use the right language, and recommend the right products and services. But most importantly, it holds the potential to do so ethically. 

Speech AI hasn’t yet reached its zenith. Technology is still evolving. Its remit is still growing. But at this stage, it is providing the most efficient and effective way to ensure that ethics become the cornerstone of sales enablement. 

About the author

Nigel Cannings is co-founder and CTO of Intelligent Voice. He has over 25 years’ experience in both Law and Technology, is the founder of Intelligent Voice Ltd and a pioneer in all things voice. Nigel is also a regular speaker at industry events not limited to NVIDIA, IBM, HPE and AI Financial Summits.