American customers who occasionally visit branches are more satisfied with their banks than those that only use mobile and online channels, according to a new JD Power study.
The investigation into retail banking satisfaction rates among 78,000 customers shows that mobile services continue to see soaring popularity, used by 49% of millennials, 31% of Gen Xers and 16% of boomers. Yet, 71% of all bank customers visited the branch an average of 14 times in the last year. Even among millennials, 71% use branches, averaging 11 visits a year.
And this appears to be correlated to satisfaction. Overall satisfaction among those who visited a bank branch within the past 12 months is 27 index points higher (on a 1000-point scale) than among those who did not.
Among millennials, overall satisfaction among those who used the branch and mobile is 20 index points higher than among those who used the branch only and 37 points higher than among those who used mobile only. And more than three quarters of new accounts are opened in the branch.
Meanwhile, the study suggests it is becoming increasingly important for banks to offer m-payments. Customer satisfaction, overall brand image and retention metrics are higher among customers who have a mobile payment service linked to their bank account.
The trend is most pronounced among the emerging affluent segment of millennial customers with incomes above $80,000, among whom 64% currently have mobile payment services linked to their accounts.
Digital problem resolution is also key. Unsuccessful problem resolution is highly correlated with low levels of satisfaction and high levels of customer attrition. Overall satisfaction among customers whose problem was not resolved is just 564 points out of 1000. Further, only 20% of these customers say they were likely to reuse that bank. When the problem is resolved, satisfaction scores jump to 812 and loyalty increases to 58%.
While the branch has been the traditional channel for handling problems, younger customers prefer to resolve issues online or via social media.
Jim Miller, senior director, banking, JD Power, says: "It's becoming increasingly clear that banks that can get the balance right between digital and personal interactions will be those that build the strongest customer relationships.
"The Millennial generation is a great source of insight into the trend, but it's one that's larger than any single generation: all customers want choice. They want to choose when, where and how they conduct their banking, and banks must continue to meet that need by offering consistent, tailored experiences regardless of the channel."