In-Person Interactions Opportunity

While mobile banking gets all the attention, one of the biggest areas where banks have an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and drive referrals is in in-person interactions, such as advisory services, according to a new study by Market Force Information, a company that consults for multilocation businesses, such as banks.

More than 3,800 consumers were polled for the study, which reveals banking technology trends, America’s favorite national banks and what it takes to get consumers to love a bank brand.

Banking App Downloads Up 7 percent

Market Force Information found that 72 percent of consumers whose bank offers a mobile app have downloaded it, an increase of 7 percent compared to 2014. Those in the 18–24 year-old range have the highest adoption rate at 93 percent, but there are increases across all age groups. In fact, nearly half of those over age 65 use their bank’s app. The most prevalent app activities are checking balances, checking payment history and transferring funds. Very few are using the app to apply for new bank accounts or withdraw emergency cash.

Digital Wallet Growth Sluggish

While mobile app use is on a fast track, digital wallets aren’t enjoying the same success. More than half of consumers surveyed don’t know what a digital wallet is, and only 12 percent are using them. PayPal Mobile is the most widely used, although Apple Passbook has gained the greatest momentum in the past year. The most popular uses are making payments, storing loyalty cards and making “tap-and-pay” purchases.

 Physical Banking and Human Touch Build Loyalty

Even as new technologies take hold, the vast majority of consumers still retain retail bank accounts and visit branch locations. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed use a traditional retail bank as their primary provider, while 29 percent use a credit union, community bank or microfinance bank. Conversely, only 3 percent primarily use an e-bank.

Contrary to expectations, consumers visit their banks fairly frequently. In the past 90 days, 21 percent of consumers went into a branch to speak with an adviser about products and services, and 72 percent conducted a transaction with a cashier.

Of those consumers who recently met with an advisor, 16 percent reported a poor experience. However, when they do speak with an adviser, their satisfaction levels increase by 6 percent and they are 7 percent more likely to recommend their bank to others.

“The investment made by banks in their financial advisers continues to pay dividends,” says Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. “When banks focus on their customers’ experiences with a keen eye toward serving their specific financial needs, loyalty increases dramatically.”

Preserving loyalty is highly important, given that 12 percent of consumers said they are thinking about switching from their current retail bank to a different retail bank. The primary reasons given centered on both dissatisfaction with fees and the service provided by the bank, particularly when it comes the customer’s financial well-being.

Chase and U.S. Bank Again Rank As Favorite National Banks

To learn which banks are delivering exceptional experiences, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent banking experience, and their likelihood to refer that national bank to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score. For the second year in a row, the top five were Chase, U.S. Bank, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

 Satisfaction (Not) Guaranteed—What Customers Really Want

The survey uncovered four major factors that impact a customers’ satisfaction in banking: transparency and fairness, security and reputation, ease of doing business, and location convenience. There is an 81 percentage-point lift in satisfaction levels when banks perform well in all four areas.

“The national brands we evaluated are doing well on the basics, such as handling transactions and offering branch convenience, but they’re missing the mark in areas that enable them to build trust,” said Flink. “For instance, most consumers don’t see their banks investing in their financial well-being, customizing services to their needs or helping them with money-saving tools.”

Chase and U.S. Bank Dominate Core Attributes

Chase—the study’s leader—ranked first in three out of four areas that impact satisfaction, including transparency, security and convenience. U.S. Bank was voted the easiest to do business with and came in second in all other areas. Out of the five banks studied, Bank of America was last in each attribute.

 Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted in September 2015 across the United States. The pool of 3,853 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with nearly 52 percent reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 63 percent were women and 37 percent were men.