Branches back in fashion as online growth slows

Branches back in fashion as online growth slows

Over half of UK consumers still visit a bank branch each month, according to a study from Forrester Research, which also shows that ATM and Web banking growth has slowed in the past year.

The research shows that UK consumers are among the most frequent branch visitors in Europe, with 55% of the 2000+ customers surveyed visiting a branch each month, mainly for routine tasks like depositing cheques and withdrawing cash.

Furthermore, while self-service channels like ATMs and Internet banking have been growing fast, Forrester says this growth appears to have slowed in the past year.

Benjamin Ensor, senior analyst, financial services at Forrester Research, says: "Although two-thirds of UK adults are online regularly, just one-quarter of adults bank online. Some net users have little confidence in online banking security, but many others are simply content with traditional channels and see no reason to change."

Ensor says many banks don't offer alternatives to branches for depositing cash and cheques so customers have to go to branches to carry out these transactions.

"Banks need a mix of incentives and barriers to drive routine interactions to self-service, thus releasing customer-facing employees to focus on more valuable interactions," he says.

But Forrester says frequent branch use doesn't necessarily mean that customers buy products or talk to advisors. The research shows that just over a third (34%) of UK consumers never speak to a branch advisor.

Ensor says banks' desire to turn their branches into retail shops won't materialise if they can't entice online customers back into branches to do more than deposit cash.

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