In Financial Services, Customer Service Can Be a Deal Maker—or a Deal Breaker

In Financial Services, Customer Service Can Be a Deal Maker—or a Deal Breaker

So you had a bad day at the bank. And not because your balance was lower than you expected. Perhaps the pen that was chained to the deposit slip holder didn’t have any ink in it. Or maybe you couldn’t remember the PIN you needed to make a deposit. Whatever the reason, you’re not alone—and the displeasure you experienced makes you a flight risk to your bank of choice. In fact, just 60% of Americans say they’d be highly likely to recommend their primary financial service provider. That means the rest are up for grabs.

It’s no secret that the financial services arena faces more than its fair share of challenges as it assesses how to adapt to an increasingly digital landscape. That said, however, there’s one area where banks control their own destiny: customer service. Or better yet, transforming customer service into a personal customer experience. And this is the one area where they can’t afford to miss their mark. Why? According to recent research, customer service, along with fees and re-location, make up the top three reasons why consumers switch providers. And that makes it critical for financial service brands to understand their customers’ experiences and interactions—and deliver across the board.

In line with the growing digital shift, many consumers are interacting less with bank associates, whether it be at branches or over the phone. And that means financial service providers have fewer opportunities to make their in-person interactions count. According to Nielsen’s fourth-quarter 2015 Financial Channel Track survey, U.S. consumers are steadily opting to use digital channels (computer and mobile) when it comes to the basics of retrieving account information, transferring funds and paying bills.

That’s not to say, however, that traditional brick-and-mortar locations are becoming obsolete. In fact, research shows that physical locations are still critical for many financial interactions, particularly when it comes to cashing and depositing checks. U.S. consumers also favor physical locations for opening deposit accounts and when seeking financial advice.

So why do consumers continue to visit physical locations for these activities?

Understanding the behavioral drivers is the first step to creating a migration plan to lead customers toward a specific channel. In some cases, financial services providers may be able to use customer service as a way to change consumer behavior. If, for example, interacting with a human is more pleasant or effective than using a machine or phone, some consumers might opt make a change.

In looking at the results from the fourth-quarter 2015 Financial Channel Track survey, personal service and interaction with an associate is the top reason consumers visit a physical location. Convenience, ease of use and security are common sentiments as well.

Acquiring new customers is expensive. While digital innovation is a critical element in addressing and anticipating client needs and improving profitability, it’s just as vital to deliver on the non-digital fronts as well—especially when customers expect a personalized experience versus the same old service.

For additional insights, download our Channel Effectiveness for Financial Services report.