Global Retail Banking Study Serves Buffet Of Tasty Factoids

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A recent retail banking research study concluded that the more technologically advanced consumers become, the less tolerant they are of poor customer service. The study also found that customers continue to view branches as a vital link to their bank, but remain wary of social channels.

Channel Preferences

Despite growth in online and digital tools, branches remain popular, with 64% saying it is their channel of choice. Almost three quarters (73%) of customers in the US, UK, Germany and Spain see their local branch as a vital link to their bank, second only to cash machines.

Key Takeaway: People think branches are more important than they actually are. Paradoxically, they say they need branches, even though they don’t use them.

The average number of channels used to purchase a product is 2.9. The study revealed that customers expect banks to tie all these disparate channels together, linked with their personal data.

Key Takeaway: Achieving greater channel integration should be a core priority for all retail financial institutions.

The report encourages banks to create branch experiences comparable with the retail sector, including greater use of video, hands-on demos, in-store internet terminals and WiFi. 41% of consumers say they expect access to free WiFi inside bank branches.

“Better branch design is needed and in-branch technology — e.g. self-service kiosks — should be employed,” the report recommends.

Calling the contact center remains the first stop for consumers looking to resolve a complaint or issue, although 40% say poorly constructed phone trees are a major source of frustration. 47% said they would prefer to call someone at the branch level instead of at a call center.

Key Takeaway: When digitally-savvy consumers decide online and self-service channels won’t suffice, they are intent on receiving hands-on, personal attention, not more automation and technology. They know what they need: to talk to someone — without headaches, hassles and roadblocks.

“Consumers want to be able to contact someone local, with the perfect scenario being able to call someone with the potential of being able to follow that up face-to-face,” researchers noted.

Mobile banking is also gaining popularity, with 24% saying they have already tried it. One-third are interested in making mobile payments. Consumers also expect other digital channels like web- and video chat to grow. 25% of those ages 16-24 would like to use video-chat to speak with their bank.

Social Media

The research found that banking customers around the world remain cautious of social media when dealing with personal finance matters. The study revealed that only 5% of consumers see social media as an appropriate channel for financial conversations, and some 60% said they wouldn’t use Twitter, Facebook or similar sites to resolve customer service issues in banking.

Only 7% of consumers say they are interested in social finance tools like peer-to-peer lending.

“While consumers are willing to use mobile apps, they are less sure about using online forums and social media to collaborate with others over their finances,” the report notes.

Banking… It Ain’t Easy

The research found that consumers are more cautious and are paying more attention to their finances. 65% said they are spending more time and energy managing their money.

Consumers resent the effort involved in the retail finance processes. Over 40% say they have to exert high- or very high levels of effort when making financial purchases.

Key Takeaway: Find ways to simplify every consumer-facing product, process and channel. Your goal should be for consumers to spend less time interacting with your brand, not more.

59% of US consumers say they are “more likely to switch banks due to bad customer service than to get a slightly better deal.” An equal number of UK consumers feel the same way, while only 45% of Spanish agree.

The Net Promoter Score (a simple if not controversial measurement used by some financial institutions) is negative for the entire industry.

“Levels of recommendation are very low and large global banks are undifferentiated,” researchers noted, “even if service levels aren’t too shabby.”

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International Concerns

People don’t have high levels of trust in financial services providers, particularly in the UK, where the number has sunk to 31%. Barely a third (34%) of British consumers said they have a strong relationship with their bank. This compares to 40% in Spain, 55% in the US and 64% in Germany.

In-branch bank representatives need better skills and knowledge, according to 38% of UK and 39% of Spanish consumers.

Spain leads the rest of the world in mobile banking. 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 account.

Germans seem more focused on getting the best possible deal than quality of service.

UK consumers are global leaders in online and digital finance.

The US has the most competitive market and US consumers seem the most satisfied with service and interactions.

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