UK consumers used an average of 6.2 channels to do business with their banks in 2014, driven by a surge in uptake of digital and social communications tools.
Updating an earlier study from 2012, BT and Avaya say the number of different ways that people use to contact their financial services providers has grown by 44% in the intervening period. In 2012, people contacted their banks, building societies and insurers using an average of 4.3 different channels, such as face-to-face at the branch, telephone, Website, by post and ATM, and via the then-emerging mobile and social routes.
A surge in uptake of mobile apps, Web chat, social media and video calls is driving the expansion of bank-to-consumer contact points in 2014. The number of people using mobile apps has leapt from seven per cent in 2012, to 23% in 2014. Webchat has grown from one per cent to 11% in the same period. And video is beginning to be used for the first time, with three per cent of people having tried it to contact their financial services companies in 2014 (versus zero per cent in 2012).
Social media is also growing in popularity as a contact channel, with the study showing that the number of people using Facebook to interact with their financial services providers has grown from three per cent in 2012 to eight per cent in 2014. A quarter of the 2000 consumers surveyed say that they would like to engage more with their banks, building societies and insurers via social media, with 24%t happy to make contact via Twitter.
But despite the growing use of these digital channels, it appears that people still want the human touch traditionally delivered by their bank or building society branch, with more than half of those sampled (55%) believing that banks have focused too much on automating services to the detriment of face-to-face interaction. The study found that four out of five people still visited a branch in the year prior to being surveyed. Almost half (48%) say that having a named individual to email or phone would help them warm to their financial services providers.
Simon Culmer, managing director of Avaya in the UK and Ireland, says: "With over four out of five people having visited their branch in the year prior to the survey, this research tells us that customers aren't substituting one channel for another. Instead, customers are happy to combine traditional channels with digital ones to achieve the best result."