For most people, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as an increasing numbers of others, have become the gold standard in digital experiences. So, inevitably, when dealing with their banks, many customers expectations are high, fine-tuned by their experiences in other online activities.
The banks themselves are learning that they cannot ignore how their customers think and feel about their experiences and that they have to adapt to what their customers are expecting. But, what are the biggest challenges in a digital marketing campaign for banking?
A number of customer satisfaction surveys are now showing that customers are pushing many of the choices that banks make, forcing banks to need to look beyond merely increasing or enhancing existing digital services to becoming total, top to bottom, digital organizations that respond to their customers instead of telling the customers what they are going to get.
Some of these surveys take too small a sample to have much validity but others, such as Deloitte's Global Customer Survey of 2018, which covered 17,100 customers in 17 countries, are impressive in the trends that they have been able to highlight. The results of the surveys were fairly consistent despite the different geographical locations and cultural attitudes.
The first thing that all these surveys, especially Deloitte's, PWC, HSBC and FiServ, found is that customers are generally satisfied with the banks that they are using, presumably because they would have already moved if their dissatisfaction was sufficiently high and that those using the widest range of services were usually the most satisfied because they also had an emotional connection to the bank, especially if they were receiving investment support and advice. Yet customers rated their experiences with the gold standard services, Apple, Microsoft etc., as much, much higher than their experiences with their banks, principally because these former had established the emotional connection that most banks have not yet managed or tried to create.
The surveys certainly showed consistently that the rate of digital adoption is growing exponentially.
- 86% of bank consumers use ATMs to access their primary bank
- 84% use on-line banking
- 72% use mobile phones.
In fact, mobile phone use increased over the use of other devices by 50% during last year according to the PwC survey and it appears to be an unstoppable trend, one which crosses all generations and all cultures. The surveys also showed that those who were most digitally savvy and tech-minded, as well as those with the most in the bank, tended to be the most enthusiastic about their banks and their services, implying that, in some respects, digital bank services have got ahead of the capabilities of the majority of their customers even though the numbers of digital users is growing.
The surveys note that some customers, about 23 %, are traditionalists and do not want to move too far into the digital age. An average of 35% are totally committed to technology, totally digital savvy and want more of the same. But the largest segment and the fastest growing segment, are middle-of-the-roaders, people who are feeling their way in the digital world, increasingly using digital services but not completely at home with them and who therefore get easily put off or impatient if things do not work as expected.
The degree of use of digital services also depends on the level and reliability of internet connectivity. The Digital Economy and Society Index ranked the Netherlands as the top country in Europe, relating high connectivity directly to the level of use of digital services. The surveys all concluded that banks need to boost security and flexibility when customer use the preferred mobile phone apps and that this preference for mobile is going to oblige banks to tailor more and more of their services to mobile phone use.
The surveys also showed that customers expect banks to have a physical presence, to have offices and branches and that branches, face-to-face contact, are used for any complex transactions when advice is required and so on. They also showed that the banks continue to use the “pull” method, responding to the needs of customers by supplying digital services, whilst many of the newer fintechs use the “push” method by creating individually tailored offers and notifications which bring the customers to them with more aggressive marketing that is geared more precisely to the individual customer.
The digital services need to take into account that the traditionalists need persuading to use more digital and that the bulk of the bank digital customers are not as technically savvy as the banks like to think. Both these groups stand to get easily frustrated and annoyed if the digital services are not user-friendly. Capital One bank in the US, partnered with a third-age non-profit organization to develop services tailored to the older customer to overcome these limitations.
On the other end, the really digitally savvy customers, usually the younger and better-educated ones, get bored and frustrated with apps that are too simplistic and limited. JPMorgan Chase has opened a digital bank just for millennials which provides services geared to their lifestyles.
And finally the surveys make a plea to break what they call the “information channel silos”, that is the tendency in large corporations of all types but, in this case, banks, to contain information about clients within one hierarchical department and not to share it with other sections of the same bank, often creating double-coping to create databases that already exist somewhere in the organization.
In the long run, customer satisfaction will only be obtained by allowing the customer to indicate what he needs and then giving it to him. If that means taking it slow with the traditionalists but also having a fast-track geared to the younger, technically savvy generation, then that may be the way banks will have to develop in order to be sufficiently responsive to their customers in the digital age.
Digital marketing in financial institutions!
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