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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Customers calling for better connections between Web and branch - study

Integration between the Internet bank and branch banking channels is key to improving the customer experience, according to a pan-European study conducted by TNS on behalf of Fujitsu Services.

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Will UK Banks Get the X-Factor? It's the Same Difference!

What is it that keeps the excruciatingly happy brother and sister act of Sean and Sarah, Same Difference, out of the bottom two each week? My theory is very simple – they have understood what their customers (public voters) want...

Will they win the whole competition? Probably not – but in many ways they have already won and have beaten some serious competition along the way…

FinExtra published an article today examining the experiences of 2,500 retail financial services customers. Full of interesting study results and figures, perhaps the most telling of which is the disparity revealed between what banks think customers want and what users would really like.

Is there no bank or financial services organization out there with the X-Factor! The evidence is all around us…

Today, Chris Skinner has blogged about how he tried to get his audience of retail bankers “all shook up” in Vegas on the subject of branch transformation with them finally admitting that they recognize it’s not what we really want…

Recently, the results of another study, this time by Forrester regarding UK e-banking growth, appeared in FinExtra, suggested that consumers need an incentive to switch. According to the article, the study contradicted previous studies, including one by Lloyds TSB – so who’s research is right, the bank’s or Forrester’s?

In any case, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Michael Goldman and Bjorn Soland who both subsequently blogged or commented on the report…

I and many others have also blogged regarding the disconnect in understanding and trust between banks and corporate customers’ needs and wishes – really, it’s the same difference!

So, come on UK banks! Listen to what your retail and corporate customers want! Get the X-Factor! On-line X-boarder payments!

My own evidence of the UK’s “head in the sand” approach to banking services…

I was seconded to Luxembourg, within the bank I worked for at the time, in 1993 and ended up stayed over there until 2005. Like most seconded resources, I continued to have the usual financial interests in the UK such as; property, family etc., so I needed to regularly make X-boarder transactions…

Do you think my local Luxembourg bank could facilitate this? Of course it could! 10 years ago I could go to either of the two banks’, I had accounts with, Internet banking sites and make on-line X-boarder multi-currency payments (this was even before the Euro and IBAN made it all easier!).

Half the working population of Luxembourg is international migrant workers – the banks understood what their customers needed and wanted, and if it is something we need and want then we don’t mind paying a reasonable tariff for the service. The IT investment to deliver the service had an obvious ROI.

Now, last Christmas I was going away for a while and needed to make a reasonable size, but well within Luxembourg on-line limits, transfer of Euros from he UK to Ireland before heading off...

Could I do it on-line through my UK bank’s Internet banking service? Of course NOT!

So, the week before Christmas I trotted down to my local branch to do there. I filled out the good ol’ carbon 3 copy forms, handed them over the counter, had my identity and the forms checked, a copy was stamped and handed back to me and I was told the transfer would be actioned the next day as I had missed the 4pm deadline – no major worries...

I returned home in the New Year and towards the end of the first week in January I noticed that the transfer hadn’t happened. So I trotted of back down to the branch, because of course I couldn’t check on-line where the payment was in the process. Unfortunately, the branch staff were equally in the dark – their internal applications seemed to offer equally poor visibility – so they asked me to call their international payments call centre.

I trudged back home and called the call centre, which logged the complaint, gave me a reference number and said someone would contact me in the next 24 hours.

Two days later, nothing! So I called again… still no explanation, but they promised it would be escalated.

Finally, on the 3rd day, I was called… the explanation… you’re going to love this… the branch had to fax my forms to a centralized international payments unit, i.e. no application in the branch for someone to be able to key in the order into a screen!!! The fax arrived and was not readable, so they faxed the branch to ask for the fax to be resent… for some reason this fax was never seen in the branch (maybe they ran out of paper? Doing their bit for the planet?) and so, of course, it never got resent and was filed as assumed to be processed… GREAT!!!

Ironically, the very same bank published some ICM Research back in November 2005 revealing the number of Brits who own property abroad was set to double from 2.2 million to 4.4 million (10% of the population) over the next few years and that, as they put it, “a staggering 37%” were considering a purchase abroad..!

Only 6 months later, some independent research by HIFX put that figure at 68% of Brits who would like to buy overseas!

Hmmm… do you see a need emerging? On-line X-boarder payments!

The only thing I find really staggering is that given this kind of evidence, banks are still not giving many of us the facility we would really like and be prepared to pay a reasonable tariff for… on-line X-boarder payments!

Banks in other countries didn’t have to wait for the Payment Service Directive (PSD) or SEPA to work out what their customers need and want… why are UK banks not getting the X-Factor..?


Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 November, 2007, 12:19Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Thank you for commenting on our research. You raise the question of whether our research is right because it contradicts some research published by Lloyds TSB.

Our business depends on our research being independent and reliable. We have been tracking the development of online banking in the UK since 1998 and have conducted at least four surveys every year since then into consumer adoption of online banking. We use both postal surveys and online surveys and weight the data to ensure that it is representative of the adult UK population as a whole. We also speak to the banks. We are confident that the proportion of all adults who use online banking today is about 31% and that the proportion among Net users is about 46%. Our methodology is available online and in our reports for people who are interested. 

Usually when two different surveys produce very different results the explanation is that the sample of people questioned was not the same, though it can be caused by other reasons, such as a failure to weight the responses to ensure that they are a representative sample.  

It's difficult to be certain how Lloyds TSB arrived at such a different conclusion, particularly as the press release does not detail the methodology of the survey the bank commissioned. Lloyds TSB itself expresses surprise at the numbers in its own press release. My suspicion is that the research is based on an online survey of Net users or even the users of a particular Web site, not all adults, and that that fact then got lost somewhere between the survey being conducted and the press release being issued. It would not be the first time someone had confused a sample of Net users or site users with a sample of the population as a whole.

Your post highlights some very interesting points about the disconnect between customers' needs and the services that banks provide, and about the differences in service and functionality at different European banks. 

Thank you.

Best regards, 


Alan Goodrich

Alan Goodrich

Regional Sales Manager


Member since

12 May 2003



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

SEPA and European Payments

The Single Euro Payments Area, the Payments Services Directive, the Eurosystem, TARGET2, STEP2, the Euro and related matters.

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