Neo Financial: Disruptive startup innovates with AI at scale
A new disruptor in the financial services industry, Neo Financial is changing the way Canadians spend, save, and grow their money. Since launching in 2019, the innovative finserv company has amassed more than one million customers and successfully scaled customer service using an Amazon Web Services cloud architecture and the Zendesk CX platform. Better help center documentation and automated AI responses are helping drive efficiency and productivity, resulting in a 95 percent one-touch ticket rate and an automated email response time of 5 minutes or less.
“Our way of using automated responses in Zendesk has had an incredible impact on our efficiency and productivity. It has helped us achieve an 87% first contact resolution rate.”
“With our hypergrowth, we count on Zendesk to provide immediate support when we’re implementing a new solution or tracking customer interactions. It’s easy to share information internally and iterate quickly.”
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
#1 Canadian Startup
Linkedin Top Startups 2022
Number of customers
Number of employees
Annual ticket volume
One-touch resolution rate
≤ 5 mins
Automated email response time
Number of support agents
Launched in 2019, Neo Financial is reinventing the way Canadians spend, save, and grow their money. The Calgary-based finserv startup offers a portfolio of innovative products and experiences designed to disrupt the traditional banking model in Canada, which is dominated by six large federally regulated institutions.
Neo Financial’s head of experience Shannon Burch explains, “We give our customers the freedom to make their own financial choices, instead of a bank determining what’s right for them.” On the website and mobile app, customers are empowered to select and apply for a range of products and investments, from credit cards and bank accounts to mortgages and private wealth management.
Currently, Neo Financial relies on 160 support agents, including 20 dedicated chat agents, to handle service requests for its growing customer base, which recently topped one million. Although more traditional CX channels of phone, email, chat, and help center still play a pivotal role in Neo Financial’s customer service, the team’s approach behind the scenes remains unconventional.
The fast-growing finserv company deployed cutting-edge solutions alongside the Zendesk CX platform. Both KMS Lighthouse, a knowledge management systems company and Amazon Web Services helped to rapidly scale support, which resulted in significant gains in efficiency, productivity, self-service, and customer satisfaction.
Building stronger customer connections through voice and video
Neo Financial recognized the many benefits phone support offers in the finserv industry and decided to leverage voice as its primary support channel. Establishing a trustworthy and emotional connection with new customers is crucial, especially when time-sensitive financial decisions are involved.
“Some banking issues are most easily solved over the phone, such as cases of potential fraud, where an empathetic human voice can go a long way to reassure worried customers. Providing a personalized customer experience is so important to us,” says Burch.
Phone support also provides great insights into customer needs and interests. As the head of experience, Burch is always studying the behaviors of customers and why they call, which informs how Neo Financial develops channels and resources valued by customers.
Video has also proven to be an effective way to deliver information, encourage self-service, and build trust with customers. Neo Financial has a talented in-house studio team that designs self-service videos for customers which are posted in the help center and on YouTube, covering basic education and FAQs: How do I activate my card? How do I pay my bill?
After seeing an uptick on video engagements, the team concluded that most common issues can be resolved using help center documentation in Zendesk or by emailing out links to YouTube self-service videos.
Great service starts with empathy and education
“Companies typically measure customer interactions as if every conversation is going to look the same, take the same length of time, and have the same flow. But as humans, we know that our individual needs can be very different,” explains Burch. Neo Financial is using CX tools to replace the traditional customer experience with a more personalized journey.
“We want our support team to prioritize empathy and education, and to encourage customers to get more involved with their own banking,” Burch says. While support leaders rely on Zendesk reporting and analysis to track improvements, they try to avoid confining agents with performance-based metrics.
“Instead, we use Zendesk data to inform how we coach, identify outliers, and evolve our training program.” Burch continues, “We find ways to help customer conversations go more smoothly or to write emails that drive one-touch resolutions, so our specialists can focus on delivering great customer experiences.”
New customers need extra time and support getting comfortable with Neo Financial’s unique products and processes, which makes it even more essential to streamline customer onboarding with Zendesk. “The bulk of our support interactions occur within 60 days after a customer chooses a product,” says Burch. “Around 30 percent of those customers really dig in and reach out to us, often multiple times.”
An agile startup needs flexible tools and expert support
While Zendesk is primarily used by employees who have direct contact with customers, Neo Financial also uses the platform to promote internal collaboration and agility at scale.
“With our hypergrowth, we count on Zendesk to provide immediate support when we’re implementing a new solution or tracking customer interactions,” Burch says. “It’s easy to share information internally and iterate quickly.”
Gaining access to Zendesk support has given the team a huge advantage. Burch recalls trying to find an easier way for specialists to deliver information to customers on multi-touch interactions. “The Zendesk team got on collaborative calls to discuss use cases and help us figure out which tools to build into our workflows. That expert support has been a game changer, because we can stay organized and develop a good historical understanding of our customers,” notes Burch.
Integrations improve data analysis and automation
When it came to gathering data on email requests and automated responses, Neo Financial turned to KMS Lighthouse for its AI and machine learning capabilities. The support team found that 87 percent of email customers didn’t email back after receiving an AI-powered message, which suggests their issue was resolved in one touch.
“With the Lighthouse integration, our email response time is now 5 minutes or less. We’re seeing extraordinary response times and great results when we include links to FAQs and tutorial videos,” Burch says.
In fact, Neo Financial only sends an automated email response if the team is 95 percent certain of the customer’s exact question and the best response. Otherwise, a customer support specialist determines the right course of action, whether it’s simply hitting send or modifying the automated message.
“Our way of using automated responses in Zendesk has had an incredible impact on our efficiency and productivity,” Burch says. “The goal is to solve 30 percent of customer interactions with automated emails.”
Neo Financial has also incorporated Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions into every facet of the company—including security, data storage, and analytics—to create a highly secure, scalable, and agile architecture that meets the rigorous demands of its customers, partners, and regulators. Since the inception of AWS, Neo Financial has added several hundred thousand users across Canada and thousands of retail partners.
Game-changing solutions for today and tomorrow
By providing tech-driven and user-friendly alternatives in banking, Neo Financial hopes to establish itself as a successful vanguard, the likes of Netflix, Spotify, and Uber, on a global scale. “Customers expect seamless experiences, whether hailing a ride or mobile banking. Disrupting consumer expectations is still one of Neo Financial’s goals, along with transforming how financial service products look in the future.”
Burch concludes, “We have a vision of how we want to disrupt the industry, by following a process of iteration and exploring learnings from our customers, employees, partners, and merchants. We believe that our success will impact customer experiences outside of financial services, as well.”