What bank clients want post digitalization

Nowadays, banks are under pressure to reinvent their services in a digital format that suit modern client expectations. In the midst of digitalization, bank clients want anytime, anyplace banking. However, personal service also ranks high on their wish list. How should banks respond?

Consider for a moment, how many of a standard bank’s interactions have been digitalized in the past decades. Through e-banking, major service areas such as opening new accounts, checking an account status and paying bills have been fully digitalized. More complex services such as obtaining different types of loans and wealth management advice are oftentimes partially digitalized. But how does the endless digitalization affect banks and their clients' attitudes towards their services?

Digitalization equals fierce competition

A majority of bank customers love the flexibility they have acquired through digital banking and market research suggest that they want their bank to introduce new, data-driven service offers. For their part, banks have saved costs by going paperless. In short, digitalization is a big success.

However, there is a catch. As bank services have become increasingly digital, banks have entered in a fierce global competition for clients. Because they don’t depend on a nearby physical branch anymore, many clients see less of an incentive to choose a local bank. They can choose any bank and the internet enables them to research and compare service offers from the comfort of their couch. Once they do choose a bank, they can easily move their business if they are not impressed with its service.

In the intense competition for customer retention, banks exert themselves to further develop their services in accordance with new client demands. But what are these demands and are they really all focussed around digital experiences?

What bank clients want

When asked what they most want from their bank, today’s consumers point to a combination of the convenience offered by digital services and a personal touch. In a survey conducted by CGI, 1,244 consumers put forward the following top 5 wish list for their financial service provider:

  1. Reward me for my business (81%)
  2. Give me “anytime, anyplace” access to my balance (61%)
  3. See me as a person (58%)
  4. Provide me with wealth-building advice (55%)
  5. Tell me what I am spending money on and how I can save (52%)

The above list indicates that modern clients are looking for both convenience and personalization in the service offering. Furthermore, a 2017 study by Accenture suggests that the following qualities rank high for modern bank clients:

  1. a data-driven real-time personalization
  2. a human touch

Whereas digitalization drives convenience, it may have left clients wanting when it comes to building trust and being treated as an individual. Furthermore, many clients still value personal face-to-face advice when it comes to more complex banking products. So, how do you answer to the demand of a personal touch in a modern way?

Mixing digital with personal

To “see each client as a person”, bank advisors and personnel need to know their clients even when they have hardly ever met them before. Banks must support their advisors with tools that allow them to fulfil this expectation. One approach is to integrate online interaction tools directly into e-banking and mobile banking solutions. These should offer a convenient way to exchange important information between clients and advisors so that clients can let advisors know what is important to them. In addition, banks need to build trust by proving that they can transform customer insights into superior customer advice at lightning speed - whether digitally or personally.

This approach can be combined with a larger strategy where both digital and face-to-face services are prioritized according to their respective strengths.