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Banks must close the customer experience gap with friendly, knowledgeable staff and banking services as the consumer demands

www.gmc.net:  Almost  half of consumers in Great Britain (GB), Germany, France and the US feel their bank does not value them as a customer (48 per cent), according to new Ipsos MORI research commissioned by GMC Software Technology. Consumers want to decide how they bank, with almost three quarters wanting to request the format in which they receive information from their bank (72 per cent) and also at a time that suits them (74 per cent). Banks therefore need to listen to consumers to deliver the services they need. However, only 19 per cent of consumers really believe banks understand how to deliver good customer experience.

Half of consumers feel undervalued by their bank
Half of consumers feel undervalued by their bank

The research of 4,032 consumers across the four countries looked at what consumers really think about their bank’s customer experience and how they are valued. It offers insight into how banks can improve their relationship with customers by listening and providing the right information, at the right time, via the right, optimized channel with a particular focus on online and mobile.

Improving the customer experience
Just ten per cent of consumers in GB believe that their bank really values them as a customer. And elsewhere, the banking industry does not fare much better with six per cent in the France, 20 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the US.

In order to improve the banking customer experience, the top three points for GB consumers are enabling customers to bank when and how they want (49 per cent); friendly and knowledgeable staff (45 per cent) and easy access to the branch (39 per cent) .

Mike Davies, vice president EMEA North, GMC Software Technology said: “It’s time the banks started to show that they value their customers by listening and allowing customers to be involved in decisions that affect the banking experience. Banks should provide multiple channels of communication, but they should ask consumers which ones they want to use, not tell them.”

Constraints of online and mobile banking
The demand for online banking is increasingly obvious. Online-only is already the most common way to view bank statements (36 per cent of all bank customers have online-only statements) and not just amongst Generation Y. It is important not to assume that online/mobile banking channels are the preserve of the young. For example, all age groups are using online-only statements. Of the 25-34 age group (Gen Y), 41 per cent use online-only statements as are 42 per cent of the 55-70 year olds.

However, current online and mobile banking services have considerable constraints. Two thirds (65 per cent) do not believe their online banking delivers an effective level of customer service, while just a third (32 per cent) feel it is truly interactive i.e. you can present your bank data in any way you want or link back to your bank with questions. Mobile banking fares little better, with only a 16 per cent of banking customers finding the service satisfactory. The nature of both online and mobile lend themselves to a more dynamic, interactive relationship with the consumer rather than presenting static content that could, just as easily, be sent by post.

The mass adoption of online statements is driven by customers appreciating its convenience (80 per cent), environmental benefits (67 per cent) and increased security compared to paper (45 per cent). Revealing the level of skepticism towards banks, 73 per cent of bank customers suspect banks are pushing online statements in order to save money.

“The number of ways by which a consumer can interact with their bank is increasing, with traditional bricks and mortar giving way to call centers, internet and mobile banking as well as social media. It is now time to close the customer experience gap. The research reveals that there is a time and place for each channel, and banks need to adopt the technologies and strategies that will help them engage effectively with each customer through the optimized channel that each customer chooses,” continues Davies.

Consumers managing money more effectively
Despite the lack of interactivity, online statements clearly encourage customers to manage their money more effectively. Two thirds (67 per cent) of those who use online statements view them at least once a week. Of those using statements on a mobile device, 54 per cent view them at least once a week. In sharp contrast, of those who rely on printed statements, 64 per cent view their bank statement only once a month .

With online being the most popular way to view bank statements, and viewed more frequently, the rise of consumer technology seems to be improving the nation’s ability to manage its money.

Download the report ‘End of the banking autocracy: why banks must understand value and bring back trust’ here .