Banks, the Digital Experience, and Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Bethany Frank on 10 Mar 2016

Customer satisfaction in banking is becoming increasingly tied to user experience and the breadth of digital services offered by a financial institution. Consumers are flocking to financial service providers that best meet their needs in the areas of convenience, speed, and security.

Smaller banks used to dominate customer satisfaction ratings, consistently beating out large legacy financial institutions due to their ability to offer customers a more personalized experience. Now, however, the tide is turning.

Larger banks have managed to steadily and somewhat silently improve customer satisfaction rates since 2012, and new research from J.D. Power shows consumers now prefer large banks due to their superior digital offerings. Smaller banks are finding it particularly difficult to deal with this “digital disruption”. Unable to address complicated infrastructure challenges and rising consumer demands, they risk losing customers to banks that are actively investing in modernization efforts.

J.D Power’s 2016 U.S. Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study illustrated the rapid rise of digital natives in every demographic, as well as the increasing importance of appeasing millennials. The digital services offered by large banks gained them high marks among these digital natives, millennials, and the newly affluent. In order to remain competitive in the financial services market, banks will have to adjust to the demands of these crucial demographics.

Financial institutions also face unprecedented pressure from the technology sector as both established players and agile start-ups enter the financial services market. Research from global design firm Beyond shows consumers are as interested in financial products from tech brands as they are from banks. Many consumers are open to switching to third-party providers for the easy and secure digital experiences they offer. According to Beyond, consumers are even more interested in online-only banking experiences, with 79% of respondents interested in online-only payments and money transfers, and 77% interested in online-only checking services.

These modern consumer expectations are largely a byproduct of the tech boom itself. With companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook consistently going above and beyond consumer expectations to deliver cutting-edge products and user experiences, consumers have come to expect the same from their banks.

Despite the challenges, banks still have a significant strategic advantage over non-bank players. The digitization of modern society is somewhat of a double-edged sword, as consumers both desire more electronic connectivity and fear it. A majority of consumers still have more trust in their banks’ financial applications than those offered by third-party providers. According to a survey conducted by ING, 84% of mobile device users trust their bank’s mobile app, while 42% of respondents do not sufficiently trust apps that are not from banks.

It’s difficult for consumers to accept less-than-instant service from banks in an age where so much can be accomplished at the touch of a button. People want simple yet powerful online services that from financial service providers they can trust. By placing emphasis on user experience and a high standard of security, banks can improve customer satisfaction, increase customer retention, and remain competitive.

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Bethany Frank Senior Marketing Associate Bethany specializes in content and events as part of Alacriti's marketing team. She's a graduate of Rutgers University and has a background in writing, broadcasting, and digital media. Fascinated by the intersection of technology and human nature, Bethany is out to explore what drives consumers in such a fast-paced, digitally connected world.

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