‘They’re doing less than we expect’: The evolving expectations of banking customers

Australians perceive banks as secure, responsible and trustworthy; however, they also view them as expensive and unaccountable.

This is the key takeaway from Publicis Sapient’s Customer Banking Report, which was built around a survey of more than 5,000 Australians “from all walks of life to gauge their expectations, experiences, and perspectives of the country’s banking sector”.

The findings cover a broad range of topics, from expectations of customers when it comes to personalised services, to how customers engage with their bank through traditional branches.

When asked to select the industries they “respected most for their benefit to society”, banking ranked ninth out of 13. 56% of respondents chose healthcare/medicine, followed by education/academia (35%) and retail/foods services/hospitality (24%). Just 13% selected banking.

The current cost-of-living crisis “may reinforce the perception of banks as expensive, but other negative sentiments pose a threat to the institutional trust in banks, which is crucial for customer retention and competitive advantage,” the report notes, also pointing out the “ample opportunities for growth” that exist for the banking sector.

Interestingly, those who visited a physical location of their bank in the past month are far more likely to expect a personalised service (83%), while only 62% of those who haven’t expect personalised services.

“Customers appear to associate personalised services with physical channels, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity for banks to shift these expectations towards digital channels, ultimately leading to increased differentiation and enhanced customer experiences,” the report reads.

Customer service was earmarked as the service most in need of improvement, followed by account management, financial planning, and loan and credit services.

Speaking to Fear & Greed’s Sean Aylmer, Andrew Lam-Po-Tang from Publicis Sapient explained that a lot of customers’ expectations relate to how the banks should help them address early signs of financial stress.

“So, basically, 96% of people when we ask them, could come up with at least one way that a bank could be looking at your personal transaction data and determining whether or not you might be falling into imminent financial stress,” Lam-Po-Tang explains.

“So the examples they raised was, if I missed a payment on a credit card or a loan, if I experienced job loss or some dramatic income reduction, or whether my overdraft is unusually high, or I experience some unusual insufficient funds payment transactions … if one of those signs appears, a bank should detect that and do something about it.”

Lam-Po-Tang said these “very high expectations” of banks are a “direct result of how intimately they’re involved in our modern lives.”

“They see every transaction we make. I think, intuitively, people understand that is a tremendous amount of insight, that is an intimate look into people’s lives. And I think, for better or for worse, people have very high expectations of banks as a result.”

Download the report here.


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