Is It Enough to Meet Expectations?

By Jason Goldberg

Many banks are meeting customer expectations, but few are exceeding them.

New data shows clear indications that banks have ample room for improvement in managing the customer experience and—perhaps more importantly—in convincing consumers that they care about them. According to the second annual Consumer Banking Survey by Protiviti, 93% of banking customers believe that banks at least meet their expectations. That’s the good news. However, if exceeding expectations and providing superior customer service is the goal, there is significant progress to be made. Only 36% of consumers say their banks exceed expectations.

This is a big concern for many banks because for many consumers, a brand is equated with the customer’s experience. Consumer banks are no longer squaring off solely against traditional industry opponents to attract and retain customers. They’re also contending with established consumer brands, emerging fintech players and others. Succeeding in this new competitive landscape requires a rigorous focus on customer care and a commitment, at every level of the organization, to finding ways to consistently exceed customer expectations.

The survey queried more than 2,000 consumers in the United States, across a broad spectrum of age and income groups, about a range of customer experience issues, including preferred methods for interacting with banks, as well as perceptions about how financial institutions are meeting customer expectations and handling complaints.

Consumers want to know: Do you really care enough about me?

Creating convenient, boundary-free banking capabilities for customers is increasingly important, but banks must not lose sight of what consumers also care about greatly: customer service. In today’s challenging environment, when it comes to addressing customer complaints, the issue is not whether or not banks care, but whether their customers perceive them to care enough about their problems and issues. Ultimately, such sentiments will drive customer and brand loyalty as emerging entrants continue to disrupt financial services.

One key survey finding is that the prized segment of banking customers—those whose annual incomes top $200,000—are less likely to report that financial services companies exceed their expectations (30%) compared to all respondents (36%).

According to the survey, only one in three consumers thinks that their financial services company “absolutely cares” about their problem when they share a complaint. What may be even more telling is that nearly as many say their banks either do not care or are unsure if they care about the complaint. Only 36% of customers report that their bank responds every time with a resolution when they share a problem.

When it comes to making complaints, the survey results found that customers lean on tried-and-true methods to express them to their banks—consumers are most likely to log a complaint in the following manner:

  • Via phone (63%)
  • By visiting a branch (40%)
  • Using email (18%)

While customer complaints represent a fact of life in the financial services industry, these problems also present prime opportunities to delight the customer. Regulators increasingly review and act upon customer complaints, which means compliance executives should be as concerned as their marketing counterparts about the speed and compassion with which issues are resolved. Even though innovation in the banking experience is a key consideration for financial services organizations, customer service remains a fundamental tenet of the business and we don’t expect that to change.

Multi-channel banking: Looking at the popularity of online and mobile.

Overall, 68% of surveyed consumers say self-service online and mobile channels make it easier for them to do business with their banks. Demographically, customers in the 21-29 and 30-39 age groups are far more likely to use mobile applications (66% and 60%, respectively), mobile web (33% and 32%) and online chat (15% and 11%) compared to customers aged 40 and higher.

Jason Goldberg is a director at Protiviti, a global consulting firm that delivers deep expertise, objective insights, a tailored approach and unparalleled collaboration to help leaders face the future confidently. Email: mailto:[email protected]Twitter.