Report: Customers embrace digital services

Most bank customers embrace digital banking but still seek connections with personal bankers on certain matters, according to an annual survey of U.S. banking professionals and consumers.

According to the survey, consumers still value support from a personal banker, especially for more complex tasks like loan applications and detailed financial advice. Banks should respond by introducing a “live chat for basic questions, video banking, and online appointments for more personalized experience and consultative support,” the report states. 

Released on Dec. 6, the report called on banks to prioritize engaging customers across all channels. “Trust and quality relationships lead to more profitable business and customer retention,” it said. “Without good customer engagement, levels of trust are lower, relationships are weaker and customer loyalty is at risk.” 

According to the report, open banking will place more pressure on banks to prioritize meeting the emotional needs of customers by being “consultative” instead of “transactional.” 

“Customers will remain in need of sound financial advice and banks need to be mindful of staffing advice-driven employees versus those who support a transactional experience,” the report stated. 

The report, which was conducted in August, also included a survey of 451 adult banking customers. Seventy-eight percent said they are satisfied with their current financial institution, but only 54 percent said that their bank reaches out to them to gauge their needs. Forty-three percent said there is someone at their bank or credit union they can always talk to when they need answers to financial questions. 

  Customers are showing less loyalty to their primary bank. Only 65 percent of consumers prefer to use one bank, down from 79 percent three years ago, according to the data intelligence firm Rivel. More than half are reportedly looking to add at least one new account in the next year. 

Most consumers and professional bankers are concerned that the economy is either already in recession or will soon enter one. According to the report, if a recession strikes, consumers will want more financial guidance beyond the basic product and service support many banks provide. “In addition to expecting lower fees, competitive rates, and late payment forgiveness, consumers indicate they would also expect recession strategy planning (34 percent) and even one-to-one financial planning (16 percent),” the report stated.