Despite the growing popularity of online and mobile banking, over half of Brits would only place their savings in an institution that has branches on the high street, according to a survey for Deloitte.
The YouGov poll of 2000 adults shows the existence and accessibility of branches, along with face-to-face interaction, remains a key consideration for customers.
Over half - 53% - of respondents say they would only place savings in a bank with branches they could visit and 65% would only take out a mortgage after speaking with an advisor face-to-face.
The high priority given to service by customers has contributed to more than a fifth of respondents moving banks over the past two years due to dissatisfaction with the way they have been treated.
In fact, customers place more importance on the level of service they receive than on the interest rate when choosing which bank to have their current account with. Around two thirds have their current account where they get the best level of service, whereas only 30% base their decision on where they earn the highest credit interest.
Neil Tomlinson, head, retail banking consulting, Deloitte, says: "The fundamental battle for current account market share and balances must be fought out in branches, where face-to-face interaction is the keystone to engaging customers. Our research showed that 58% of customers would be more likely to open a current account at a bank with branches open in the evenings and on the weekend. Face-to-face contact is a key requirement, and particularly so for products such as mortgages - where customers are unwilling to compromise on face-to-face contact."
Despite the importance attached to branches by customers, the recession has forced some banks to close sites and lay off staff. This week the Royal Bank of Scotland announced plans to axe 3700 front line branch employees in a bid to cut costs. The cuts will remove a 14% chunk of the bank's staff wage bill and hit a third of its branch banking staff.