Despite the growing use of telephone, mobile and internet banking, a new study, called Youbiquity Finance, tells us that the majority of consumers want their banks to retain the personal touch in their dealings with them. We found that a staggering 73 per cent of customers in the UK – and a similar number in Germany, Spain and the US – believe that in the future their local branch will be the most vital link with their bank.
This contrasts with an apparent lack of enthusiasm for using social media to engage with financial services providers. 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. So, customers want multichannel interactions, but these must feel local and personalised to their specific needs.
This research comes at a time when policymakers and financial services providers alike are placing increasing emphasis on the need to empower consumers and provide them with greater control and transparency over their finances and interactions with their banks.
Indeed, the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking, known as the Vickers report, has insisted on easier account switching for consumers as a means of giving them more control over their finances, as well as increasing competition in the marketplace.
One of the findings of our study that really stands out for me is that 55 per cent of people are more likely to switch bank due to bad service than a bad deal – which serves as an interesting point. Customers want clear, helpful and convenient communications with their providers.
Also referenced in the research is customer concern about what is in their accounts. This is pertinent as sweeping improvements are coming into play around how personal current accounts operate and the introduction of greater control features.
Innovations in customer service technology can help financial services providers meet the triple challenge of increased regulation, cost pressures and ever growing customer expectations. 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.
There is now a real opportunity for financial services companies to build deeper, closer and ultimately longer relationships with their customers. It’s up to the industry to grab this.
To view the Youbiquity finance research summary click here.