STOCKTON — Banks in the United States have spent decades and countless sums of money trying to figure out the correct balance of venues, online, mobile or physical branches customers want. A new Gallup survey finds many still value quality, in-person customer service.
While banks have focused much of their efforts on online and mobile applications, nearly 75 percent of customers surveyed said they visited a physical branch in the last six months. Another 48 percent said they spoke with a call center representative.
Getting the channel of engagement — the ability to bank anytime, anywhere, in any way — right is crucial to banks’ success.
The poll, which included 6,032 adults, found that 48 percent of customers who were “very satisfied” with their branch experience felt “fully engaged” with the bank. By contrast, among those who were not “very satisfied” only 5 percent were fully engaged with the bank.
Those results were found regardless of whether the customer preferred using a branch or another method of dealing with their bank.
The Gallup findings indicated banks that are focusing on digital channels and paring down physical branches are alienating customers.
Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that they would “only consider using a bank that offered physical branches.” Even among customers who prefer digital avenues to personal interactions, 38 percent said they would choose a bank that has physical branches.
Overall the poll found that customers used multiple channels of engagement with their chosen bank. The average customer surveyed used four methods of dealing with their bank in the past six months.
A key result of Gallup’s findings is that banks focusing on expensive digital expansions are not automatically engaging customers or saving money. Some banks may be costing themselves money by investing large digital frameworks only to find out that customers still want the physical branches the bank was hoping to reduce.
The survey also found that adding additional venues but providing mediocre performance in those venues only hurt banks. The survey found that banks whose customers felt most engaged, emphasized five-star experiences in existing methods of customer engagement and enhanced customer relationships.