Only 29% of Western Europeans believe their bank acts as a 'customer advocate', doing what's best for them and not just what's best for the bank's profits, according to a Forrester survey of nearly 21,000 European adults.
Across every surveyed country, customers who view their main bank as a customer advocate have more accounts at their main bank, are more likely to consider their bank for their next financial purchase, and are more likely to recommend their bank to others. For example, 82% of Europeans who think their main bank is a good customer advocate would recommend the bank to others, compared with a mere 20% of customers who do not consider their main bank a customer advocate.
Compared with 2008, the overall European customer advocacy score remains stable, but at the country level, scores varied dramatically. In the UK, for instance, banks have lifted their ratings from a European low of 21% in 2008 to 25% in 2010, with the Co-operative Bank emerging as the leading bank in Europe, raising its score from 50% to an impressive 60% of customers.
Forrester Analyst Vanessa Niemeyer comments: "Executives can learn how to better demonstrate customer advocacy by watching how leading banks, such as those in the UK, focus on the four attributes that strongly correlate with high customer advocacy scores: keeping things simple, operating transparently, treating customers benevolently, and building trust."
Much has been made of the value to banks of building a deeper engagement with customers through the use of new social media channels, but a separate analysis by Forrester suggests that banks would score more highly if they paid attention to sentiment indicators from traditional channels like call centres and e-mail correspondence.
Says Forrester analyst Andrew McInnes: "Consumers are much more likely to provide feedback directly to companies through relatively traditional channels - surveys, phone calls, email, surface mail - than provide feedback publicly through social channels (such as) Facebook, Twitter, blogs, review sites."
As an example, he says, 71% of US consumers provided feedback through at least one traditional channel (including email), while only 16% provided feedback through any of the new generation of social channels.
The result is important for customer experience leaders building out voice of the customer (VoC) programnes, notes McInnes. "Most companies already use surveys extensively, and social media is now a hotbed of VoC activity. Yet the contact centre is still largely untapped," he observes. "That's a shame, considering the mountains of valuable unstructured and unsolicited customer feedback buried in calls, emails, and letters. If there's customer feedback gold in your contact centre - and there probably is - you should mine that resource."