Demand for direct retail banking services has risen since the financial crisis, posing a major technological challenge for financial services providers desperate to attract and keep increasingly disloyal customers, according to research from Accenture.
The vendor's survey of 46 senior banking executives in 14 countries shows that nearly half of the top retail banks globally have seen their average customer profitability decline by five per cent to 15% since the crisis.
Efforts to fix this face new and long term headwinds after a "fundamental power shift" between the banks and their customers, claims Accenture. Of those polled, 59% say customer loyalty has decreased post-crisis, with 63% reporting consumers are more price sensitive and the same percentage seeing more shopping around.
These increasingly demanding customers want more direct services - online, telephone, and mobile - since the financial crisis, according to 83% of respondents with nearly two-thirds believing this will pose a major challenge in the next three years.
Meanwhile, with customers shopping around for products and services, respondents expect their main competition to come from outside the industry.
Asked where the main new banking product and service innovations are coming from, 65% say other industries, such as retail, while 45% cite technology innovators. Only 43% think innovation is coming from existing banks operating in their markets, while 20% credit new entrants.
The research also reveals banks are not particularly confident in their capabilities to attract and retain customers. In total, 82% of those polled think good customer data and analytics is key to this, yet just 39% rate their own bank as strong or very strong at it.
Similarly, 79% rank integrated multi-channel distribution as important but only 26% say they are strong at this and, despite 53% arguing that the use of innovative technology is vital for attracting and keeping customers, a paltry 13% think their bank are strong on it.
Surprisingly, respondents are far more confident in their brands: 90% think a strong brand is important in retaining customers and 76% think they have this.
When it comes to priority investment areas for customer management and distribution, developing and improving new channels is cited by 54%, integrating multi-channel distribution by 49% and improving customer insight capabilities by 33%.
Piercarlo Gera, global MD, financial services industry strategy practice, Accenture, says: "The banks that will win the race to rebuild profitability will be those that recognise their customer relationships have changed for good. Banks will need to work on their service models by introducing more sophisticated customer segmentation, making sure key segments are serviced with the appropriate mix of banking channels and giving those segments a greater ability to define and select their services. This will help them 'pull' customers in rather than simply push products out, and increase sales while better managing their costs of servicing customers."