Did you see this recent report “An app-etite for banking” by the BBA (now part of UK Finance)? It found that over the past five years, UK consumers have been using banking apps more and more – in fact, activity on these apps has increased by a massive 354%! Over 60% of channel interactions to access current account services were made via banking apps, a huge increase of 40% in just five years.
We’ve seen a new wave of technology over the past few years which are dramatically changing how we bank, but how is the banking industry reacting? Are we really keeping up with what consumers want?
Keeping up with changing needs
The changing needs and expectations of customers are placing banks under increasing pressure to keep up – they need to become more flexible and let customers bank how they want. In just two years, the number of people in the UK regularly using banking apps has rocketed to from 17.6 million to 19.6 million – that’s nearly 40% of the population. Consumers are definitely embracing tech which lets them choose how to bank. It’s not just mobile apps that have grown in popularity, but also chatbots, video chats, and text alerts, as well as internet banking platforms. The digital revolution is definitely on its way.
Of course, banks are also finding that it’s not just the speed of consumer change, but also that no two consumers want the same experience or have the same access needs. It’s clear that customers want a seamless experience across devices and bank channels they want to be able to start a transaction on a mobile device (for example, filling out a loan application) and then visiting a branch to finish it, being able to pick up exactly where they left off and the bank manager has instant access to their form.
Technology to make it happen
Of course, most banks know what their customers want. The challenge is making it happen. To be able to deliver that customer experience banks need to invest in compelling advanced software that will help them to strike the balance between digital adoption and personal service. The increasing digitalisation of banking services should not mean that customers are deprived of the personal service they get when they visit a branch. Video is one great way that banks can use technology, all while giving a personal service. For example, in 2016, 4.4 million web chats between bank staff and UK customers took place. That’s 510 every hour!
Personal contact needs to remain a priority (especially as it helps banks build and keep trust and loyalty of prospects and customers), but to achieve this, banks need to find a solution that truly links multiple channels together seamlessly. Mobile devices have a key role to play in this, as the number of people using them to bank is rapidly increasing. They have a wide range of uses, so there are many different ways that they can be incorporated into the self-service channel. They can be used to locate the best service for a client on the move, to replace the card in a cash withdrawal, to provide audio assistance for those who are visually impaired, to carry out third party payments, and many more.
But what does all of this mean for the future of retail banking? Crucially, the enthusiasm for new technology and banking apps doesn’t necessarily mean that “the card is on its way out”. It simply means that customers are now benefitting from more choices when it comes to managing their finances. Of course, banks need to make sure that they adapt, by making sure they invest in the right technology and ensure fully omnichannel banking experience.
The banking industry is undergoing some exciting changes, with apps just one technology that are being used to drive a better customer experience, but without the right omnichannel infrastructure, banks risk missing out.
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