06.07.18 / Enterprise

Across Generations, Consumers Prefer the Bank Branch for Financial Advice

Ridgefield Park, NJ – June 7, 2018 – Consumers of all ages overwhelmingly still prefer in-person interactions at bank branches, though long wait times and poor customer service may be getting in the way of lasting customer loyalty—finds a new study commissioned by Samsung.

While consumers prefer digital interactions when it comes to making quick transactions, such as withdrawing cash or transferring funds, when there are more substantive conversations to be had, they would rather deal with humans. 77% of consumers seek out a  face-to-face transaction when discussing lengthier topics with their banks, and 53% of consumers would like to pick up the phone for quick questions, rather than dealing with a digital solution. Despite wanting to conduct business with their banks in-person, customers across demographics were dissuaded by impersonal service and long wait times. The study concluded that the addition of tech-backed customer service tools to brick-and-mortar bank branches could be the key to inspiring lasting customer loyalty.

“For the past several years, banks have been heavily invested in online and mobile technology, at the detriment of their branch experience,” says Julie Godfrey, U.S. Lead of Financial Services Solutions & Innovation at Samsung Electronics America. “These results underscore the importance of bank branch associates having the tools they need for a personalized consultative customer service engagement.”

Among the key findings:

  • The Branch is the Key Place to Engage. The usage of mobile banking skews dramatically across age groups, however branch usage is popular across the board. While 75% of consumers aged 18-29 utilized mobile banking, only 29% of the 60+ age range have. Alternatively, visits to the bank branch across age groups only ranged between 74% (18-29 years) and 85% (60+ years).
  • The Future of Banking is Human. Consumers prefer digital interactions when it comes to making quick transactions, such as withdrawing cash or transferring funds, but when there are more substantive conversations to be had, they prefer human interaction. Most consumers prefer a simple phone call for quick questions (53%) and a branch visit when they’re discussing lengthier topics (77%).
  • Neglected Branches Mean Less Loyal Customers. Consumers may prefer heading to branches for certain transactions, but a poor branch experience is likely to keep them away, or even consider switching banks. The biggest pain points most likely to prompt switching banks included unprepared banking associates (68%), long wait times (55%), impersonal service (49%), and the unavailability of specialists (43%).
  • Tech Solutions Show Promise in Improving Customer Service. When it comes to improving physical bank branches, the changes customers were most open to translated to faster, more convenient, and personalized service through tech adoption. Consumers were most excited by greeters prepared for their arrival with personalized information (62%), an expanded mobile app where they could check-in or compare wait times at local branches (55%), and interactive touchscreen displays to explore products and get advice while waiting (53%).

“These results highlight the continued premium placed on face-to-face interactions when it comes to banking, and yet as these institutions continue to modernize, they must continue to invest in delivering excellent customer service,” said Bob Meara, analyst, Celent. “Investments in technology and staffing must reinforce the branches’ current and future strategic role. If banks do not provide a compelling sales and service in-branch experience to customers, it may be costly.”

The report concluded with a call to arms for branches and contact centers to take a page from their self-service counterparts, to use technology to deliver the personalized and prompt customer service experience their most loyal clients crave. By putting relevant customer information at the fingertips of frontline staff through a combination of technology and training, the bank branch of the future will be vastly successful in developing lifelong customer loyalty.

The full report is available at https://www.samsung.com/us/business/short-form/delivering-excellent-customer-service-in-banking/.

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