Even as online banking usage continues to grow, major retail banks are struggling to create an ideal in branch experience to complement it. This is even more important in light of the finding that 70% of consumers admit to swapping between online and offline channels when carrying out a transaction.

This is just one of the findings from market research firm Lightspeed who we commisioned to poll 2,000 consumers across the US and UK, now available in our latest report, entitled: Modern Banking.

The report provides a deep dive into the psyche of the retail banking customer and offers actionable insights for executives across the sector.

So else what did we find?

Online banking continues to grow

On both sides of the Atlantic, the number of consumers using online banking grew by 25% showing there’s still some headroom in the sector, with improvements in technology and efforts to educate older generations paying off.

When we break down these findings by country we can see consumer behaviour was similar across each. In the US, figures for online use continue to grow with 24% of respondents saying they used online banking more than last year. In the UK the picture was similar with 25% of people using online more than last year

However we’re starting to reach critical mass

Despite online banking growing by a quarter this year, it seems we’re reaching a tipping point, with the majority (84%) of consumers saying they would only use online banking a similar amount next year.

If we break this down by country. In the US, 83% of consumers said they’ll use online banking the same amount next year. In the UK this number is slightly higher with 86% saying the same.

Despite this, physical branches remain key for certain interactions

Despite typically less branch use, not many consumers rule out a role for the branch in some purchase journeys. Especially when it comes higher value products such as mortgages or loans where customers are often looking for advice.

For these kind of higher value financial services:

  • 57% of US visit branches to sign up for higher value, with 30% mainly or only doing it in branch
  • 38% of UK would sometimes visit the branch to sign up with

These stats show that face-to-face is still the preferred method for many types of interactions. This is especially the case when it comes to buying high-value products, or those which require more expert advice such as mortgages.

But their full potential is yet to be harnessed

In the interviews only 21% of respondents rated the current inbranch experience as excellent showing clear room for improvement. In the UK this was particularly the case with only 16% of respondents describing the inbranch experience as excellent. The US came in slightly higher with 27% of US responses describing their experiences as excellent.

There were two key areas that our research identified as elements that would improve the in branch experience:

Queues 65% of respondents (UK: 69%, US: 61%) said a reduction in queues would influence the number of visits they make to a branch.

Service – 67% of respondents (UK: 65% US: 70%) said they would be more attracted to branches if staff had a better attitude and knowledge.

As BookingBug’s CEO Glenn Shoosmith explains “It’s clear digital interactions are shaping the way consumers communicate with their banks. Only a few years ago, the majority of banking was done through branch visits and over the phone. But today, customers are primarily interacting via the web and mobile devices.

However, despite this shift, we found that bank branches, and the expertise of their staff, remain important to the consumers. Especially when it comes to buying high-value products, or those which require more expert advice such as mortgages.

Crucially, our research reveals how banks can enhance the in-branch experience to improve consumer perceptions. With the newest wave of online-only banks being awarded a license Here, the importance of providing the very best service is paramount: innovation in this area is a key differentiator in an increasingly crowded market.
Download the full report today to uncover opportunities and insights into how retail banks can create the ultimate customer experience and attract attention as a result.”