Customers may be happy to carry out simple banking tasks online and through their mobile phones but when they need personal attention and expertise the old fashioned branch still wins out, according to a survey from Cisco.
The poll of 5,300 consumers spread across five developed countries (Canada, France, Germany, US and UK) and three emerging markets (Brazil, China and Mexico) suggests that people want access to a range of banking channels, both digital and physical.
Online is still the preferred channel for everyday banking tasks, with 78% of respondents from developed markets and 72% from emerging countries wanting to pay bills, manage accounts and check balances through the Web.
The mobile phone is becoming an important tool for a relatively small but growing group of people, with 13% of consumers in developed markets and 18% in emerging preferring to use their handsets for real-time expense tracking, personal finance management and payments.
Social media is still widely distrusted as a banking channel, with just one per cent of developed markets respondents and eight per cent from emerging countries indicating a preference to use it for conducting banking transactions.
Meanwhile, bricks and mortar remain important for many, with 65% of all respondents globally (56% in developed countries and 81% in emerging countries) in favour of bank branches that offer an expanded portfolio of financial and advisory services such as education, legal, accounting, tax, and insurance.
There is also strong resistance to the trend towards in-branch automation, with a quarter of all those quizzed warning that this drift from personal attention and expertise offered by real people could be enough to make them leave their provider.
One way to bridge the virtual and physical world is video and 23% of consumers in developed markets and 43% in the emerging world say the use of conferencing technology is a way to enhance the quality of advice in situations where the access to expertise is a concern.
Overall, consumers want to use all the options available to them across physical and virtual channels. Frequent users of virtual channels also visit branches more often, says Cisco.
Jorgen Ericsson, VP, global financial services practice, Cisco Internet business solutions group, says: "Banking is transforming rapidly, driven by changes in regulations, macroeconomic pressures, new customer demands, technology advancements and increased competition. A fundamentally new approach to banking is needed with an emphasis on a combination of both improving customer experience and simultaneously reducing costs. Our study shows that customers are ready for a new era, and the solution will be omnichannel banking."