Despite the growth in Internet and telephone banking, over half of Scottish customers still prefer visiting branches and will move banks if branches are shut down, according to research conducted by Heriot-Watt University's Social Enterprise Institute (SEI).
The research surveyed 2678 Scottish customers of HBOS, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Lloyds TSB and showed that over 55% of customers still make a weekly business visit to their local branch.
Survey respondents were particularly resistant to branch closures, with almost a quarter (24%) saying that they would switch to another bank if local branches closed. Poor customer service was cited by 19% of respondents as the main reason for switching.
SEI says customers at HBOS, which has recently undertaken a programme of branch closures, expressed a particularly high level of dissatisfaction with service.
Declan Jones, director of the SEI says the research shows that customers demand a high quality branch service and are willing to switch banks to find it: "Where customers are dissatisfied about branch closures and the subsequent impact on services, they also feel an increase in negative attitudes towards the bank.
Jones says the study shows that these negative feelings are strongest amongst HBOS customers.
"Given the strength of such feelings identified in our research, it would appear that this is an issue for strategists to take on board alongside the potential cost-savings offered by new technology," he adds.