Personal touch should be key to banks’ future plans, says research
Research finds consumers want multichannel interactions with financial services companies to feel local and personal
Banking customers around the world are cautious of social media when dealing with personal finance matters and prefer personalised services to be at the centre of their relationship, according to a new study by BT and Avaya.
The study found that, despite the growing use of telephone, mobile and internet banking in recent years, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of customers in the UK — and a similar number in Germany, Spain and the US — see their local branch as the most vital link with their bank in the future – second only to cash machines.
The results suggest that customers want the same personalised service that local branches deliver, regardless of whether the interaction with their financial services provider is taking place in person, on the phone or using the internet.
The findings of the survey present a particular opportunity for the UK financial services sector as it looks to strengthen its relationship with customers. The study found that just over a third (34 per cent) of British consumers said they have a strong relationship with their bank. This compares to 40 per cent in Spain, over half (55 per cent) in the US and two thirds (64 per cent) in Germany.
Tom Regent, President Global Banking & Financial Markets and Sales & Marketing, BT Global Services, said: “Despite this being a tough time for financial services organisations, these results show they can strengthen trust and build stronger relationships with their customers by delivering truly local and personalised services through every channel they have. Innovations in customer service technology can help them achieve this. Whether it’s in the branch or through remote channels such as mobile banking, technologies now exist that can link up customers to the right people and the right information in a cost-effective way.
“We know financial services organisations want to give their customers the most rewarding and enjoyable experience possible, but banks in particular are facing some of the toughest challenges of any sector and they have to prioritise investments that deliver to the bottom line. BT can help them achieve this at the branch level as well as in the multichannel contact centre and deliver the service their customers demand.”
The research also found that banking customers around the world remain cautious of social media when dealing with personal finance matters. The study reveals that only five per cent of consumers see social media as an appropriate forum for financial conversations and some 60 per cent said they wouldn’t use Twitter, Facebook or similar sites to resolve customer service issues in banking.
A telephone call to the contact centre remains the first stop for resolving a complaint or issue. However, customers are interested in new ways of dealing with their finances and expect web-chat, co-browsing and video-chat with their financial services provider to grow. Mobile banking is also gaining popularity, with almost a quarter (24 per cent) having already tried it and more than one in three consumers (34 per cent) keen to make mobile payments. In the branch, 41 per cent want access to free wi-fi, suggesting a desire to interact with multiple channels simultaneously.
Mario DiMascio Vice President, Sales EMEA, Avaya, said: “The days of the traditional local bank manager might be behind us but customers are very clear that they still want the level of personal service he once provided albeit across different and often multiple channels. Mobile and smartphone apps offer financial services companies levels of contact unparalleled in the history of the sector. It is a very personal medium and each interaction is an opportunity to engage a customer but is also an opportunity to fail, especially if the consumer switches from one channel to another and receives inconsistent information and service.”
The research exposed further cultural trends, which suggests that the more technologically advanced we become as consumers, the less tolerant we’re going to be of poor customer service in personal finance. It found that:
• Spanish consumers are using mobile browsers, smartphone apps, email and text messaging for banking more than most1 – but they have to wait the longest to apply for a new account2
• Germans seem more focussed on getting the best possible deal than quality of service3
• The US has the most competitive market and US consumers seem the most satisfied with service and interactions4
Notes to Editors
The survey was conducted by Davies Hickman Partners Ltd on behalf of BT and Avaya. It was undertaken between 6 December 2011 and 3 January 2012. The total sample size was 2,000 UK, US, Spanish and German consumers and the survey was carried online.
1 49 per cent of consumers in Spain want to be notified by email, text or phone when a better deal is available (compared to 39 per cent in the UK, 33 per cent in Germany, and 28 per cent in the US)
2 40 per cent of Spanish consumers say they often or sometimes have to wait too long to apply for a new account, (compared to 22 per cent in the UK, 24 per cent in the US and 22 per cent in Germany)
3 66 per cent of German consumers agreed, ‘I like to constantly review my financial products to check I am getting the best deal’ (compared to Spain 58 per cent, UK 52 per cent, US 56 per cent). Whilst 56 per cent of German consumers are more likely to switch banks due to bad customer service than to get a slightly better deal (compared with 59 per cent in the US, 59 per cent in the UK and 45 per cent in the Spain)
4 Only 32 per cent in the US say they often or sometimes have to wait too long in the queue at a bank branch (compared with 59% in the UK, 56% in Spain and 40% in Germany). Similarly, 27 per cent in the US have to often or sometimes wait too long to have their complaint resolved (compared to 49% in Spain, 34% in the UK and 31% in Germany)