UK banks and building societies face more criticism from customers after results of a poll commissioned by information and communications technology provider T-Systems reveals that nearly six out of ten customers claim they have had poor communications during the global financial crisis.
The results of the poll also show that 15% of customers have taken steps to transfer their savings away from their bank or building societies to somewhere safer, or considered doing so. And, more than half of the customers polled said their confidence would have been restored if the banks and building societies had improved their customer dialogue.
"In this age of high-tech communications, customers can receive all sorts of useful information in emails, on websites and in personalised letters and documents to help them make considered decisions. Instead, we see the banks and building societies avoiding customer concerns and relying on the national media to keep them informed," says Harry Taylor, independent consulting actuary and former financial services director. "It's as if they lost touch with their most important assets - their loyal customers - during this crisis."
T-Systems commissioned the research to find out what high-tech solutions it could deploy to help financial service companies cut costs and improve customer service. "We invested in the research to test our assumption that most customers were not getting enough multi-channel communications from their bank," said Managing Director Sam Kingston. "I have to say that the results were more shocking than we had anticipated. It's critical to communicate with customers during good times... but even more important during the tough times. We have the technology to help these organisations today... we hope this research will be the catalyst."
T-Systems' survey was run by independent research company BMRB and polled more than 1,000 bank and building society customers. The questions focused on communications across four areas:
- Addressing concern;
- Reactions to the crisis; and
- Future steps.
When asked whether confidence about the security of their finances would increase if more regular communication was received from their banks, 54% of consumers agreed that it would. When asked whether banks or building societies had done enough to allay concerns about their bank's stability, 57% felt that banks hadn't done enough. Results also showed that 1 out of 7 customers has transferred, or has considered transferring, money away from their current bank. Moving forward, 2 out of 3 customers (increasing to 3 out of 4 for younger customers) agreed that they want to be contacted in a more personal way - i.e. by email, SMS or personalised letter/document.