While overall satisfaction with retail banks improved slightly, five points higher than last year, according to the recently released J.D. Power’s 2015 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, there’s still work to be done.
The 10th annual customer satisfaction study asked some 80,000 people to weigh in on their banking experience in areas like account information, channel activities (ATM, branch, call center, IVR, mobile and website), facility, fees, problem resolution and product offerings.
The survey unveiled a shift. "We are seeing larger banks like Citi, Chase and Bank of America narrowing the gap with mid-size banks in terms of customer satisfaction. Mid-size banks, those with 500+ branches traditionally were seen as offering better service," says Rocky Clancy, vice president banking services for J.D. Power. He says that big banks sometimes have better mobile and online services. "Branches that have self serve kiosks and tablets in the branches you see higher satisfaction. Some mid-size banks aren’t keeping up in the digital space," says Clancy.
His message to mid-size banks, "You have to pay attention to the realities of the market, what’s important to the customer. You need to spend more money on digital. Don’t rest on your laurel. That age old notion that you offer better service than big banks is diminishing."
As for all banks, while tech bells and whistles matter, when there is personal interaction, high touch counts. "People might think that Gen Z chooses a bank because of some new app or social media, the number one reason they choose a bank is because it is a bank their family used. Personal connection counts. Every transaction can’t be DIY, so when they need help they want someone to be there," says Clancy.
Clancy says that the uptick in customer satisfaction is due in part to the fact that through regulatory and public pressure, the environment has stabilized and the number of people switching banks is lower. But he says banks should not feel a false sense of security. Clancy warns there is also a certain amount inertia, people may not be happy with their bank, but are willing to put up with a low grade of irritation.
Some of that dissatisfaction is likely tied to technology. Mobile satisfaction, which has increased each year since it was included in the study in 2012, declined by three points. For big banks, this decline is largely attributed to a 6-point drop in mobile scores, based on lower customer ratings in clarity of information and ease of navigation. Despite increasing functionality offered in mobile, satisfaction dropped as fewer customers said they fully understand the technology.
Although people said they have more ATM features now than last year, they aren’t thrilled with the range of services the ATM can perform and with the ease of use of ATMs. Customer expectation may be outpacing technology improvements.
A survey from Kasisto, which offers conversational artificial intelligence technology through branded virtual personal assistants, found that when presented with the option of adding a conversational personal assistant to their mobile banking app, 75 percent said they would use the app more frequently and 79 percent said they would leverage the added technical functionality to support more complicated inquires, thus relying less on more costly channels.
In a prepared statement, Zor Gorelov, co-founder and CEO of Kasisto said, "The rise of virtual personal assistants has changed consumers’ expectations for how they interact with mobile devices, and there is a clear opportunity for banks to use conversational artificial intelligence to extend feature sets and simplify usability within their mobile apps."
The bottom line, there’s no putting the tech genie back in the bottle. Play big or go home. Says Clancy, "People don’t have to settle."