Room for Improvement: Consumers Expect More From Financial Institutions

New research from Diebold indicates demand for financial services beyond those currently available to consumers. Enhanced technologies and better banking relationships top the list.

By Raja Bose, VP/Branch Transformation and Advisory Services at Diebold

Today’s consumers want more from their financial institutions. They expect professional, competent branch staff enabled with technology that delivers a personalized, secure and convenient experience. Most banks and credit unions recognize that they need to make changes to meet these consumer expectations. This is particularly true in their branches.

Over the past decade, branches have become less and less relevant to many consumers who have rapidly adopted digital channels. Furthermore, lower utilization of branches has made branches more and more expensive on a per transaction basis. Branches, however, remain the method consumers prefer for opening new accounts, and research suggests that the branch remains the primary driver of customer satisfaction and brand identity. Clearly financial institutions feel a growing sense of urgency to deliver a better experience now.

According to consumer research from Diebold, financial institutions aren’t adopting new technologies fast enough, especially when advanced functionality is so readily available in other industries. Simply put: they are failing to deliver the overall experience that consumers have come to expect.

Diebold’s research uncovered consumer insights that can help financial institutions build stronger customer relationships and deliver richer experiences. In partnership with Lextant, Diebold conducted research with more than 100 consumers in eight countries to produce rich, qualitative data detailing how consumers want to interact with their bank or credit union. The research combined in-depth interviews, observational exercises and experiential testing to reveal candid insights that can help financial marketers develop banking solutions that meet evolving consumer demands.

( Read More: Consumers Say Banks Put Lip in Their Service )

What Consumers Say They Want

Several of the insights found in Diebold’s research are outlined below. They’re presented using real quotes (with slight paraphrasing in some cases) from real consumers who participated in the research, giving banks and credit unions a deeper understanding of consumers’ expectations. These quotes serve as calls to action for the industry — from financial institutions to strategic partners like Diebold — to enhance service offerings and deliver better consumer banking experiences.


Consumer: “New technology that offers me cool benefits and makes my life easier is always welcome. When I see my bank incorporating banking innovations, it makes me feel like they care about my needs.”

Technology is a part of consumers’ everyday lives. And they expect technology offerings from their financial institution to be intuitive, logical and user-friendly, especially at the self-service channel. They want a consistent and familiar look and feel across the ATM, mobile and online channels. They want interfaces to be visually uncluttered and easy to understand, providing simplified options that eliminate unneeded choices as a transaction progresses. For banks and credit unions, delivering effortless interactions with self-service technology helps to build customer loyalty and increase consumer adoption of new service options.


Consumer: “Ideally, all of my financial interactions would be customized to my needs, from interfaces online and menus on the phone, to advice and customer service I receive – everything should be specific to me.”

Consumers want a more personalized banking experience from their financial provider — from the teller line to self-service channels, including mobile, online and ATM channels. They expressed a desire for financial institutions to remember their individual preferences, regardless of which channel they use to conduct banking. And they want their banking experiences catered specifically to those preferences. For example, if a consumer has declined a specific marketing offer at one channel, she doesn’t want that same offer to be presented at another channel. To achieve this level of personalized service, banks and credit unions are looking to “big data,” collecting and analyzing a wide variety of consumer information through interconnected systems that update across channels in real time.


Consumer: “I don’t know how much money I have available when my finances aren’t updated consistently.”

Real-time channel connectivity is also critical to appease consumers who said they expect accurate account updates regardless of the channel. Consumers want to see activity posted immediately to their accounts. When they make a check deposit at the ATM, for example, they want to be able to verify the posted or pending balance on their mobile device. To meet this consumer expectation, financial institutions may need to ensure that all banking channels are operating off of the same back-end system.


Consumer: “I’m afraid of my information, money or the method I used to access them being stolen, cloned, scammed or hacked.”

Delivering reliable and secure service is a must for financial institutions. Consumers said they expect their financial information to be secure and accessible from varying access points that are convenient to them. Consumers also expressed concern about cyberhacking breaches and other types of fraud. Naturally, they depend on their bank or credit union to keep their money and information secure. And they appreciate advanced security and the confidence it brings. However, security measures should not be so cumbersome that consumers have trouble accessing their own accounts. Too many steps and security measures can make banking overly complicated and time consuming. To meet these consumer expectations, more financial institutions are streamlining authentication and account access, while ensuring information is highly secure. For example, some banks are implementing solutions that offer biometric authentication, cardless mobile cash access and/or prestaged transactions – all of which introduce an added layer of security to self-service transactions.

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Consumer: “I care about getting in and out quickly, and sometimes going inside to a teller takes longer and isn’t as efficient.”

Consumers said they want the same basic services that are available in a bank or credit union to be available at the ATM, including:

  • Document and check reading
  • Versatile printing, including receipts, checks and documents
  • Options to schedule in-person branch appointments
  • Digital signature capture for checks, applications, contracts and other documents
  • Cross-channel integration and communication – from the ATM to mobile/online channels and back
  • Access to face-to-face communication, when needed

Offering these types of services at the ATM enables consumers to complete more complex transactions on their own schedule. Rather than rushing to visit a branch during business hours, consumers can visit an ATM and make teller-like cash and check deposits using deposit automation technology, connect live with an FI representative via two-way video at the ATM, or complete a prestaged withdrawal transaction using their mobile devices for authentication at the ATM. In addition to offering greater convenience for consumers, these types of advanced self-service solutions help financial institutions migrate more transactions from the teller line to the lower-cost ATM channel.


Consumer: “I prefer working face-to-face with (bank staff), because building a relationship with them makes me feel taken care of and looked after.”

A desire to adopt new technology was not seen as a replacement for face-to-face interaction with competent bank staff. At the heart of it, consumers want to feel in control of their financial lives. And while they are generally comfortable using technology for the majority of their banking transactions they still desire access to knowledgeable bankers when it comes to opening new accounts or discussing their financial futures. Interestingly, they are increasingly comfortable with connecting with bank staff over a two-way video connection – either at the ATM for quick questions or in a dedicated, private video conferencing room for longer, more complex conversations.


More about Diebold. Diebold research offers unique insight into consumers’ frustrations and satisfactions with their current banking experiences and reaffirms that they want more advanced, unified banking services than what are currently offered. Using this feedback, Diebold is helping both banks and credit unions define and create the optimal consumer banking experience. With consumers wanting more from their financial institutions, as well as their strategic partners, need to respond to these demands and strategically add services that improve consumer experiences, as well as enhance operational efficiencies. You can download an overview of major findings from Diebold’s consumer research initiative here (instant download, no registration required).

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