Americans prefer branches over Internet for bank communication - survey

Americans prefer branches over Internet for bank communication - survey

Even in the age of tweets, texts and friend requests, talking to someone face-to-face is still the preferred method for Americans when communicating with their bank, according to a survey from market research firm Mintel.

Around two in three adults say their preferred method of communication with their bank is to talk to a member of staff in a branch. This is significantly greater than those who favour using the bank Web site (44%), the phone (43%) and e-mail (34%).

Susan Wolfe, VP, financial services, Mintel Comperemedia, says: "When it comes down to it, people still crave personal contact when communicating with banks. Talking in person or over the phone brings on feelings of familiarity and confidence, which are especially important to consumers in light of the financial crisis."

However, Web sites and e-mail remain important avenues for customer-to-bank contact, especially for young adults. Over half say they like reaching their bank through a secure site.

While Americans have clear preferences for how they like to contact their banks, the results are less clear cut when it comes to being contacted. Mail is cited as the preferred method by 43%, e-mail by 42% and in person by 40%.

The Mintel survey contrasts with recent research from the American Banking Assicciaion which found that, for the first time, more people prefer managing their finances online compared to any other method. The ABA poll found that 25% prefer online, with 21% citing the branch, 17% ATMs and four per cent the telephone.

However, it does chime with a Deloitte survey in the UK which found over half of Brits would only place their savings in an institution that has branches on the high street.

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 13 November, 2009, 15:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Boy, our research shows something much more nuanced (and different, overall) than this. Javelin has been studying this issue with annual trended consumers surveys since our inception in 2002. While certain smaller (and certainly shrinking) segments show preference for branches in everyday bank interaction, by far the increasing majority of US citizens prefer electronic channels. Now the challenge with the emerging channels (mobile, Internet, etc) is that they are sometimes still far too cumbersome, and there are great opportunities for banks to recreate the iPod financial services experience, realizing higher levels of adoption, cross-sell and loyalty.

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