Nearly all consumers and businesses now do at least some of their banking via digital channels and plan to do so permanently, further accelerating a trend that emerged last year as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to unfold, according to new research released by Citizens. But while the results highlight a sweeping change in banking habits, they also ratified the enduring importance of human interaction in more complex matters.
According to Citizens’ newly published second annual Banking Experience Survey, nine out of 10 consumers (90 percent) and businesses (86 percent) use digital banking channels, up from 85 percent and 71 percent respectively in July 2020. The nationwide survey of consumers and business leaders found not only that widespread digital adoption is here to stay, with at least 70 percent of consumers and business leaders saying it is permanent, but that customers are increasingly comfortable in sharing their personal data with their banks.
However, the survey also found that human interaction – provided either in person or via virtual channels – remains essential when it comes to getting financial advice and for executing more complex transactions, two-thirds of both consumers and businesses still prefer to tap human expertise when getting any financial advice.
"This year’s survey shows that while the convenience of digital banking continues to attract consumers and businesses, there remains a need to provide a personal touch for advice and more complex transactions," said Beth Johnson, Chief Experience Officer at Citizens. "These results highlight the ongoing need for banks to provide a seamless experience across all of their channels, even as digital channels evolve rapidly."
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Banks Must Continue Evolving Digital Offerings to Serve Customers Across All Channels
While personal interaction retains an important place in banking relationships, digital offerings are increasingly key in terms of initial consideration. Most consumers now choose their banking partner based on mobile and online banking capabilities, with 40 percent of consumers saying it was the most important factor, while only 27 percent cite the convenience of physical branch locations as the most important factor.
This year’s survey also showed a confidence in new banking channels, especially among business leaders. Seventy-eight percent of business leaders said their experiences during the past year have made them much more comfortable with doing their company’s banking online. Eighty-six percent of business leaders feel confident using video conferencing tools to speak with their banker or banking team and 70 percent said they feel confident performing banking activities via a text chat function with a live banker on the other end.
Additionally, the survey results showed an increased expectation among consumers that banks will use artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to anticipate their financial needs moving forward. Fifty-three percent of consumers felt that technological advances will allow banks to leverage data and AI to help better anticipate their future needs, up from 49 percent in 2020.
Customers See Banks as Partners as They Navigate Their Financial Journey
Both consumers and business leaders are increasingly viewing their banks as trusted partners, showing that a bank’s ability to provide a seamless omnichannel experience while continuing to offer sophisticated advice will enable it to build on and deepen relationships with its customers.
More than 80 percent of business leaders said their bank supported them through the COVID-19 crisis and nearly as many view their bankers as strategic and financial partners. Nearly seven in 10 consumers trust their bank to do the right thing by them when making financial decisions, while 60 percent are comfortable sharing their financial goals with their bank, suggesting they view banks as financial partners.
Sixty-five percent of consumers and 82 percent of businesses are at least somewhat comfortable sharing information with banks as long as it leads to more tailored solutions and a better experience. Those percentages increased year over year from 60 percent and 71 percent, respectively, demonstrating increased confidence that banks are using digital tools to enhance the banking experiences of their customers and meet their needs.
Added Johnson: "Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen how customers depend on their banks to be there for them and provide strategic advice. Listening to our customers’ needs in order to provide innovative solutions, services, and experiences with personalized insights is key as we continue to move forward together."
The Banking Experience survey was conducted by Mintel/Comperemedia (www.mintel.com) among 1,028 consumers and 260 business leaders, between October 22 and November 4, 2021 for both the consumer survey and the business survey, using an email invitation and an online survey.
Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in the consumer sample of this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
About Citizens Financial Group:
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is a British-owned American bank headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, which operates in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. Citizens is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), whose headquarters are in Edinburgh, Scotland. Following the financial rescue of RBS, the company's controlling shareholder is currently the British government. As of 2011, Citizens was the 15th-largest bank in the United States.
Published: Thursday, January 20, 2022
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