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What Do Customers Expect From Banks?

Customers are changing their expectations of everyone. Especially banks. The Connected Customer wants banking services that integrate with their connected life. If banks struggle to understand, but if they don’t respond, they will lose customers by the millions.

This is true of all segments but especially true with the fastest growing segment (millennials) and the most profitable consumer segment (wealth management). Even worse, banks risk losing small, middle-market and even large commercial customers, because users of bank services are often millennials. Their executives are also often wealth management customers.

In “Can Banks Ever Meet Customer Expectations?” we took a high-level look at how customer expectations have been changing.

The graphic shown below lists a number of attitudes and expectations that arise from today’s connected customer. Many of these apply to all businesses. But some are peculiar to banks. Either way, banks need to understand and respond to them. If they don’t, the threat of disruption from niche Fintech service providers and challenger banks will become a reality.

Many of these customer expectations will look familiar. But they take quite a different form in a connected society, and especially for digital natives who have grown up with social media.

Let’s take a closer look at these expectations. Most of these appear to have a consumer bias. But remember that companies are operated by people who are also consumers. Their expectations bleed over into their business lives. This is part of what it means to live in a connected world.

Take Me Seriously

Something has changed in the millennial generation. Well actually a lot has changed. But one of the most important changes is the expectation that businesses will take their customers seriously. We have always wanted to be appreciated and valued. But the connected generation expects it in several new ways. So I would include the following expectations:

Know me: know enough about me to offer services I can use, when I need them. For example, know that I have just become a parent, or just retired, or started a business, and propose the right products for me. If I am in a business, this is more critical still. I expect you to know my needs for cash flow management, supply chain finance, investment management and things I didn’t even know you offer.

Respect me: let me see that you think of me as a person, a valuable human being. Understand that sometimes I don’t understand, and sometimes I do, and adapt accordingly.

Listen to me: I expect to be paid attention to, no matter what media I am using. If I have a question, answer it. If I have a complaint, take it seriously and respond accordingly. If I rant on social media, pick up on the fact that I’m not happy! This applies equally whether I am a consumer, a business owner or a Corporate Treasury employee.

Be honest with me: I know that mistakes happen. What I can never accept is excuses, or evasion, or downright lying. If you’re honest with me, and work to put a mistake right, I’ll respect you in turn and you’ll keep my business. If not …

Show I can trust you: when you make a promise, keep it. Always, to the degree you can. If you promise to deliver a payment within 2 days, then make sure the recipient can use the funds in 2 days. If you promise to protect my data, then make sure you do. Otherwise, you’ll lose my trust and my business in no time flat. If you make a mistake, then tell me! Nothing will lose my trust more than keeping me in the dark.

Work the Way I Work

Connected customers have become used to social media, with “always-on” and immediate response. They expect banks to work the same way.

Be where I am: I expect to be able to access banking services wherever I am, through whatever device or channel is most convenient to me. I expect all my services to be available unless physically impossible. I also expect to be able to use all my banking products, whether consumer or business, seamlessly across channels.

Be there all hours: My hours change a lot. Perhaps I work shifts, or party late, or travel a lot. I do business in London and Hong Kong as well as Los Angeles. I need my banking services on a 24x7 basis, so I expect you to be there too. That includes your people if I need to talk to somebody.

Respond now: Don’t keep me waiting on hold, whether the channel is phone, chat, text or even email. If I wanted an answer tomorrow, or in an hour’s time, then that’s when I’d ask the question or seek resolution. Value my time as apparently you want me to value yours.

Give Me Products I Want To Use

One of the biggest challenges facing banks is the novelty and innovation of Fintech offerings. Their products are just plain nice to use. Yes, I know that “all that glisters is not gold”. But today’s customer wants to enjoy business transactions.

Keep it simple:  whatever I’m doing, don’t make it so hard. I don’t want to have to spend time working out how to use a product, or how to ask a question, or how to talk to a real person.

Make it fun: play games with me – that’s how I learn, how I interact, how I grow. Gamification of business interactions is growing fast. As a bank I expect you to join in the fun. Of course that doesn’t mean frivolous games, or irrelevant gimmicks. I have my Xbox for that.

Empower me: give me access to all the tools I need and want. Give me the ability to help myself when I want to, without having to ask for help. Help me to feel in control of my finances. Give me options without confusing or complicating things.

Be the Kind of Bank I Want To Work With

We want to think that the organizations they work with are organizations that care. This is especially true of millennials. As well as wanting to be respected, we also want to work with companies that are worthy of our respect.

Be involved: let me see that you care about my community, and my world. Develop and offer products that increase financial inclusion. Provide loans for good causes. Advocate for economic justice.

Be green: don’t waste the earth’s resources. When electronic communication is good enough, don’t send paper (and never send the same paper more than once!) Show a commitment to natural energy. Be known as a company that values all of the parts of the world in which you operate.

Nothing New Under the Sun?

You might say that there is nothing new here. We have always wanted to be treated well. We’ve always expected good service. But in this connected generation, But in this connected generation, our old expectations now look quite different.

Those of us who are digital immigrants think we understand what is expected. But I suspect we don’t really. We’ve adapted to new media and communication styles. But they are like a second language to us and we miss nuances that only a native speaker can pick up.

So bankers who design and deliver business and consumer banking products have their work cut out. Fintechs have addressed some of these needs in niche products, but they need banks for the whole picture as much as banks need them.

In my next post I’ll take a look at some of the barriers and obstacles banks face. I'll also explore some of their great opportunities in meeting customer expectations. 


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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 April, 2016, 14:571 like 1 like

Great post Graham. As the Open API for third parties progresses banks must also keep our data secure both by not themselves using it unwisely as well as ensuring they only share data about us that we categorically permit them to.

Graham Seel

Graham Seel

Principal Consultant

BankTech Consulting

Member since

17 Apr 2015



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