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Financial service providers are "too faceless" - report

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10th Apr 2014
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The average UK consumer has 1.3 children, a 7.4 life satisfaction rating and 6.2 preferred channels for contacting their bank. But ultimately, when it comes to customer service, the general public prefer the human touch. 

BT and Avaya have recently conducted research into the way people deal with banks, building societies and insurers, and found that people are using 44% more channels than they were in 2012. This increase can be put down to the development of alternative digital channels, like live web chat, video calls and mobile apps. The number of users of the latter has grown from a mere 7% in 2012 to 23% in 2014, while webchat fans have gone from 1% to 11%. Social media also proved a popular communication method, being favoured by a quarter of respondents.

Video use, meanwhile, was non-existent two years ago, but is now used by 7% of consumers looking to make contact with an organisation. This may well have something to do with the fact that, no matter how much they love their digital devices, consumers still have a soft spot for the human touch. So much so, that half of respondents said that video correspondence would help build trust and improve their relationship with the financial service provider in question.  

According to 55% of respondents, banks, building societies and insurance companies have put too much emphasis on automated services, and 57% think they are “too faceless”.

Tom Regent is the president of global banking and financial markets at BT Global Services. He thinks that companies who wish to improve their customer relationships should take heed of the findings. “Banks, building societies and insurers looking to build loyalty and win new business will find this research very useful indeed.  It captures a step-change in how people interact with their financial services providers.

“The research shows that people have a huge appetite for new technologies that make companies easy to do business with but still want the human touch of traditional service. Successful financial services companies will be those that strike the right balance between automation and human interaction — whether that interaction takes place face-to-face or is delivered over the phone, video or webchat.”

Simon Culmer, managing director of Avaya in the UK and Ireland agrees, and sees the rise in different contact channels as an opportunity rather than a dilemma. “This increasing customer dexterity poses a real opportunity for savvy companies to differentiate themselves. By delivering an omnichannel customer service experience which is consistent yet tailored to individual preferences and habits, financial services companies can finally start to deliver an in branch-quality experience across any channel or device.”

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