In digital age, customers still want human touch

In digital age, customers still want human touch

As established banks rush to close branches in favour of digital channels and a host of new mobile-only challengers enter the field, new research suggests that customers still want the human touch.

In the UK in particular, the move to digital has been accelerating, with Lloyds, RBS and Barclays all retreating from the high street as customers migrate online. Meanwhile, a rash of startups, such as Atom and Monzo, are building digital-only rivals.

Yet a global survey from Nielsen shows that Brits are among the world's least likely to try mobile-only banking, with nearly two thirds saying they would steer clear of a provider with no physical locations.

The main reason Brits won’t try mobile-only banking is due to security concerns, cited by 58%. One in five who won’t try it say it’s because they prefer to visit a branch, making Britons 50% more likely than the global average to prefer going into a branch.

Security and privacy were also key factors in another recent global survey, from LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which found that millennials are extremely wary of sharing their private data with banks and fintech startups.

Meanwhile, a further survey of 24,000 people in 12 countries, carried out for vendor Verint, found more bad news for digital firms, showing that more than three quarters prefer the human touch to remain a part of customer service when engaging with brands and service providers.

Businesses are responding to the increasing digital world by offering their customers new ways of engaging with them. However, most choose using the phone (24%) or going in-store (23%). In terms of preferred digital customer service channels, 22% want access to an online account, 14% want the ability to communicate with a customer service agent via email, and nine per cent prefer mobile apps.

Comments: (2)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 26 October, 2016, 22:302 likes 2 likes

Here's the problem. Surveys say people want the human connection in the branch, but branch traffic shows exactly the opposite. The truth is somewhere in between. People THINK they need a human connection, but their behavior shows that they just don't anymore. The economics of the branch don't work with "desire" they only work with actual traffic and actual visits that produce revenue

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 October, 2016, 02:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

@Brett, I agree this type of surveys can be misleading... I believe "people think they need a human connection", just in case of trouble or a major financial event (mortgage...). People do not want to go to the Branch anymore, but what they do want is a safety net because Money is very serious. I believe in the fully digital banking model, with 1, 2 or 3 nicely designed stores (evolved branches) that are part of the overall experience. A go-to place in case of a major question. Like ING Direct successfully did to accelerate customer acquisition in several markets.