Study highlights importance of communication in improving relationship between high street banks and consumers

Consumers keen to build trust, with 68% admitting economic uncertainty made them reconsider how and where they save money

An independent study commissioned by retail and banking solutions provider, Wincor Nixdorf, has highlighted a disconnect between consumer preferences and the service being offered by some high street banks. Showing the impact of this problem, 68% of consumers taking part in the study admitted that economic uncertainty has seen them reconsider how and where they save money. However, the research of 2031 consumers also looked at how relationships with their bank can be improved, with 75% stating improved communications, whether through bank staff or technology is the answer.

With this in mind, the survey also looks at consumer attitudes to in-branch technology. It revealed that despite certain technologies such as self-service becoming a staple of branch banking, some customer education is still needed with regards to more innovative services if they are to realise the potential benefits. For example, while the majority of consumers are comfortable using self-service kiosks to take out cash, over half do not yet feel as comfortable using the machines to pay in. Many consumers also admit they are suspicious of the industry’s intentions in adopting such services. 58% believe that technology innovations such as mobile banking are simply a driver to cut staff numbers and costs, with only 22% believing the aim is to improve service to customers.

Ed Brindley, director of marketing at Wincor Nixdorf, explains, “Technology like cash deposit machines, self-service and mobile can never replace good customer service. Banks know this but the key is to show customers that they are simply tools to improve service. What this study proves is that consumers want to know that whatever technology is being adopted, it is safe and they are using it correctly to ensure it benefits them. They also feel that communication with staff is key, which will be especially important during the fast approaching London Olympics, with international visitors and a higher level of customers visiting branches. Consumers want a choice – if they wish to use self-service, they will. If not, they want to know that staff are on hand to help. Ultimately, they just want good service – technology can help achieve this but only if the customer feels comfortable using it.”

The study also revealed concern amongst consumers around the continued boom of mobile banking, with 72% of consumers believing such services to be insecure and unsafe.

“When you look at some technology such as the ATM, this has become a retail banking mainstay. Consumers feel comfortable using it and see that it is of benefit. However, the key here is that it was rolled out gradually and consumers were given the right education in how to use it. The problem now is that while banks are doing the right thing by innovating to improve service, the speed of technology-adoption has accelerated. Customers feel like they may walk into a bank and be surrounded by machines with no staff in sight, while mobile banking remains a big concern for them. However if they’re given the right level of education and help initially, they will soon feel comfortable, see that it is of benefit to them and the concern and distrust this study has identified will no longer be an issue.”

The survey of 2,031 16-64 year olds in Great Britain was commissioned by Wincor Nixdorf and conducted by independent research company TNS Omnibus.