Research released today shows that banking customers are frustrated with their banking experience and are craving a more human connection from their interactions with their bank. The research has been commissioned by experience services business – Foolproof, a Zensar company.

Findings show that – as a consequence of banks closing branches and making a move towards more faceless solutions (such as telephone banking, automation and chatbots) – customers are frustrated with these services as they are falling short of being useful, especially in the current climate where many customers are more financially vulnerable due to rising costs.

Highlights from the research showed:

  • Human interaction is what nearly half (46%) of banking customers want.
  • Nearly a third of people (29%) stated that they want more high street branches.
    • This number rises to 45% for over 55s, a demographic that may typically be viewed as having lower levels of digital capability or access.
  • 47% say chatbots are not answering their questions.
  • 23% believe their banking experience has gotten worse in the last 12 months, across all age groups.
    • Only 19% of over 55s think their banking experience has improved. However, 31.5% of under 35s think it has improved.
  • 74% of people don’t think banking is personal enough.

Foolproof has distilled the following insight from the research:

  • Customers missing the human connection: Banks have evolved to a large percentage of their customer interactions being faceless, for convenience and facilitating an ‘always on’ offering. However, many digital systems need work to avoid frustrating customers at a time when they could conceivably need communication with their bank more, due to rising costs. If banks can’t solve the frustrations for customers quickly, consideration should be given to what temporary experiences could be put in place to provide support – albeit digital or face-to-face – while work happens on aligning and designing digital experiences that fit with current customers. Short-term investment could create a lot of value and minimise the potential risk while generating brand good-will and value for customers in the process.
  • AI experiences need a next-generation look & feel: Banks should be careful not to roll out generative AI solutions to customers, without doing the work to understand what customers want from AI-powered experiences. Many of the current solutions are causing more pain than good. However, next-generation technologies could bridge this gap, going deeper into solving customer requests and eliminating the need for human interaction by better meeting customer needs with the right level of design to aid successful implementation.
  • Blend of human + digital experiences is the support customers desire: With something as sensitive as money matters, Foolproof’s experience of interviewing banking customers has shown that they crave the right balance of digital convenience with opportunities for human interaction if digital experiences aren’t meeting their needs. Especially during this period when financial worries may be heightened for many. However, with banking businesses driving for cost-savings and increased efficiencies, digital teams should be looking at how to utilise next-generation technologies and design to improve digital experiences in a way that brings human interactions to life in more sophisticated ways.

Foolproof, a Zensar company, has a long history of working with many of the largest banks in the world, helping them define their digital offerings. These findings fall under a wider initiative to garner more understanding of how customers are interacting with digital products and services within the sector today. When discussing the research, Anup Rege, Chief Business Officer, Integrated Studios at Foolproof said:

“As the data shows, customers are rightfully expecting some kind of change in their relationship with their bank. While it’s not realistic to expect a return to bricks and mortar branches, or to see an expansion of call centres given a focus on reducing cost to serve and large investments in offering a better digital experience, it is reasonable for customers to expect a better relationship with their bank. Especially during this time of economic precarity.

There are technological advancements being made inside banks to evolve chatbots and other automated process functions to take them to the next level because they recognise the opportunity for innovation and the ability to improve experiences and self-service at a lower cost, without a loss of service. Moreover, with the rise of LLMs, creating chat and automated functions which solve customer problems at a deeper level would be incredibly timely and useful. What is required now is a step change rather than the optimisation of existing tools, systems or even digital products themselves, this means releasing these next-generation automations and the experiences which house them.

It is also crucial for banks to understand the pains customers are experiencing, especially at a time when people’s relationships with all financial products and services particularly mortgages, loans and other credit products, are under increased strain. This means designing and radically overhauling help, support, chat and other digital experiences to offer more of a human edge to banking to meet the need of the hour. This might also mean putting touchpoints which are high touch under the microscope, this could enhance systems that support a call centre or online advisor, increase efficiency and drive down cost while still offering a more human connection if they were designed better, with a grounding in employee and customer needs.

Solving this desire for a more human connection is not about some great outpouring of emotion from banks in marketing or digital design but rather connecting with and understanding customers better. This work should facilitate understanding and comprehension through content and design as well as being fundamentally usable and useful. While this may mean a short-term incursion of cost, it will give banks a better chance of maintaining customers and projecting a strong brand when customers need someone to trust.

The end goal of this work should be creating banks or financial products that are as dynamic as people’s lives. What we could see coming to the fore is Open Banking powered financial products which meet more specific needs through more targeted design and service. Banks need to wise up now to respond to this threat.”

Nearly half of banking customers say they are missing the human connection in banking

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