As banking becomes increasingly digital, banks and credit unions have begun asking themselves, “Do we still need branches?” The truth is that while some view visiting a physical branch as an inconvenience in the digital age, it remains that the majority still believe that they add essential value to their financial experience. The relationship that people have surrounding their personal wealth and day-to-day banking is far more intimate than that of any other brand relationship within the life of an individual, approaching that of a doctor-patient relationship.
Now, as digital banking has begun to provide unprecedented convenience, financial institutions must understand the nuances of customer preferences in the way they prefer to interact with their chosen financial services provider. With that in mind, Future Branches has surveyed over 1600 retail banking customers to understand how their relationships to the physical branch and digital banking methods are evolving. View a summary of some of the highlights from their findings below, or download the full report to get a clear view into this evolving relationship.
Mobile banking is rising, but the branch is still vital
Despite the fact that mobile is becoming the go-to method for handling day-to-day banking transactions, nearly one third of respondents still rated the branch as their preferred banking experience. Even competition from pure digital banking offerings currently only takes 6% of the customer base, with the majority still preferring to stick to a bank that offers conveniences like ATMs, live tellers and knowledgeable advisors. In fact, the majority of those surveyed visit their branch at least once a month, despite having the ability to complete most of their banking needs remotely.
- How does the customer’s distance from the branch factor in?
- What role does age play in the way customers bank?
- Do customers prefer to apply for loan products online or in-branch?
Banking activities are completed quickly, but frequently
Whether online, through mobile or in-branch, over three quarters of customers engage with their primary bank in some way at least once a week. With the majority of these engagements being for routine activities, most customers spend less than 10 minutes with their bank each week, regardless of whether they perform those actions online or in the branch. Despite the fact that these engagements can be completed so quickly, this shows that the need to connect to their financial institution regularly is common among all customer types, stressing the importance of a trustworthy and consistent relationship between consumer and bank.
- How does the frequency of visits correlate to time spent on banking?
- What do customers rate as the most important feature of a branch?
- How many different branch locations will the average customer visit monthly?
The most popular in-branch activities revolve around face-to-face contact
The bank branch has something that a digital bank can never truly offer: the ability to get face time with an associate or teller. When it comes to highly personal banking needs such as applying for a loan or simply having a discussion with an associate, respondents consistently rated these ‘high-touch’ interactions as ones that they would prefer to perform in the branch, rather than online. While bringing the ability to perform these activities online is a great way to supplement the in-branch experience, it seems clear that given a choice, most customers would still choose to perform them in person.
- What are the rankings for the most popular in-branch activities?
- Which attributes are most important in a physical banking experience?
- What percentage of customers prefer to visit a teller over an ATM?
Few customers are aware of all the services their bank offers
Close to half of those surveyed admit they do not know of all the programs and services their bank can offer. Because of this, they often select their banking institution based on factors like proximity or a single feature or product offered when making their decision. Clearly, the role of the branch as a consultation center should be emphasized in order to ensure that customers are aware of the ways that the bank can help them reach their goals through products or account features that they may not be taking advantage of.
- How does knowledge of services relate to income levels?
- Is there a relationship between knowledge level and preferred banking method?
- Are customers aware if their bank is a member of a surcharge-free ATM network?
Video tellers are appealing, but not as a replacement for live tellers
When it comes to technology, most customers are open to the idea when it brings added convenience to their lives. However, according to the study, it should not be viewed as a replacement for live services. When asked to define their opinions on the usage of video ATMs, respondents felt largely positive about their usage as a way to extend the hours of their branch. That sentiment changed when asked if they would be comfortable in a scenario where video tellers replaced human bank tellers, where the majority of respondents felt negatively.
- What did most respondents feel could be improved about the bank?
- How does the number of ATMs at a branch influence bank selection?
- What tech solutions do customers enjoy to supplement in-person interactions?
Ready to learn more about the way customers view the role of the branch in this rapidly changing digital landscape? Download the full 2019 Future Branches Consumer Study: Understanding the Relationship between Customers, the Bank, and the Branch.
Looking to supplement the invaluable face-to-face services of your advisors and tellers with the convenience and optimization capabilities of a digital solution? Download our Lobby Management Data Sheet.
Looking to get started on streamlining your physical and digital offerings to bring more value to both your customers and organization? Schedule a consultation with Coconut Software to learn more about how our tailored solutions can help.