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New research reveals ways for banks to compete

4 minute read

BOSTON, MA -- BookingBug today announced the results of its second annual Modern Retail Banking Report.

BookingBug surveyed 2,000 financial consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. to gain a deeper understanding of their behaviors and opinions on modern banking. The research exposes a wide disparity between how consumers prefer to conduct their banking – whether through physical branches, online applications or a hybrid interaction of both – and outlines key tactics for banks to implement to stay competitive.

BookingBug’s survey findings also point to an overarching trend for today’s consumers: Similar to other industries, financial consumers expect to have the freedom to decide how to do their banking. This trend, defined as the “Democratization of Banking,” illustrates how critical it is for today’s financial institutions to remain nimble enough to ensure a customized journey based on individual preferences and the need to improve engagement across all channels. With consumers having more options than ever when it comes to managing their finances, the survey identifies four recommendations that the banking industry should implement in the near future:

  • Service Consistency: Consumers expect, and are not always receiving, a consistent, high level of service across all their touchpoints with the bank; whether it is at the branch, online, via a mobile app or over the phone. In both the U.S. and the U.K., the survey found a continued preference toward online banking versus visiting a physical branch.
    • 73 percent of U.S. consumers use online channels when conducting banking, compared to 84 percent of U.K. consumers.
    • 52 percent of U.S. consumers prefer an omnichannel experience, researching financial services online and purchasing in-branch, compared to 43 percent of U.K. consumers.
  • In-branch Experience: Although branch traffic has decreased due to online options, branches are an increasingly valuable asset for upsell opportunities and as a place to establish consumer trust:
    • Banks have recognized this and have taken steps to make branches more inviting. Overall, consumers rated their branch experiences higher in 2018 compared to last year’s study.
    • When it comes to driving more branch visits, the findings differed by country. The U.S. market considered staff knowledge and availability the highest value, while the U.K. market placed the most value on less time standing in line and easier access to branches.
    • Allowing customers to schedule appointments is a must. The research shows that 59 percent of respondents in the U.S., and 61 percent in the U.K., are interested in setting up an appointment before they visit.
  • Events: Hosting events at bank branches are a powerful, yet underused, way to connect with customers and build an engaged community:
    • The survey found that only a small number of consumers have been invited to an event at a bank over the past year – 14 percent in the U.S. and only 7 percent in the U.K.
    • However, 82 percent of U.S. respondents said that they would be open to attending an event at a bank, while 88 percent of U.K. respondents said that they would.
  • Education: Established banks are losing market share to fintech competitors who are offering robust and innovative banking services:
    • Banks can differentiate themselves by providing education and guidance to help consumers make the best decisions and increase market share.
    • Banks should consider implementing online portals to deliver educational opportunities. When coupled with in-branch events, this will make it easier for consumers to increase their financial knowledge, resulting in less of a drain on staff resources.

“It’s clear that today’s consumers have different expectations and more choices than ever when it comes to banking,” said Glenn Shoosmith, CEO, BookingBug. “In this shifting landscape, banks must find alternate ways to deliver value and provide the best experience possible, both online and in person. By offering scheduled experiences, such as one-to-one appointments and community events, as well as leveraging data to ensure customers have a seamless journey across all channels, banks will create profitable customer engagements and maximize each opportunity.”

Ultimately, the best way for banks to adjust to the freedom and power held by consumers is to develop a sense of confidence and trust. Consumers should trust that their banking experience will be seamless, trust that they can easily schedule an appointment for a time that is convenient for them and have confidence that they will be counseled on how best to handle financial planning. When this trust is established, consumers will be more loyal and less likely to seek alternate providers.

To learn more about the survey findings, join BookingBug’s Modern Banking Research Webinar taking place on June 12, 2018 at 11 am EDT. BookingBug executives will discuss recommendations based on insights from the research and offer an interactive Q&A session.