Survey: us bank customer needs during the covid-19 crisis

We recently surveyed 1000 bank and credit union customers in the US to better understand what their experience has been with their financial institutions around the COVID-19 pandemic. As much of the world has come to a grinding halt, the situation has exposed the weaknesses of institutions that have failed to truly invest in digital transformation strategies, while demonstrating the positive impact of those that have.

While many banks have been actively trying to reach and support customers, the results of the survey reveal that customers expectations are increasing. It also highlights the change in their expectations, app adoption, and how customers feel about the way their bank is supporting them through this crisis.

The Role of the Bank is Changing

At the time of this survey, a staggering 22% of respondents had either not downloaded their bank’s app or barely used it. In the absence of branch networks, digital personalization and context awareness can play a key role in keeping customers engaged on an individual level. People have been turning to their bank for support; 37% of respondents say they rely on their bank during times of financial hardship, and 62% of respondents indicated they are using their app more often. With the obvious migration to digital channels, banks must now offer a high degree of customer service on their mobile apps.

Banks are no longer vaults of financial assets, or merely a place to carry out financial transactions. They are now playing a broader role in society and have the opportunity to help people improve their lives. While the pandemic has created a deeper level of trust between some customers and their banks, 24% of respondents surveyed indicated the relationship with their bank through this crisis has actually led to a decrease in trust.

24% of respondents have not downloaded their bank’s app

One reason for this weakening of trust could be that they are simply not communicating at the right moment with the right message, further exacerbating irrelevant communication and potentially making members feel that they are not being heard or understood. A recent J.D Power study referenced by Financial Brand, highlights some of the impacts of communications from primary financial institutions to their customers.

Communications from primary financial institutions about Coronavirus to respondents.

24% of respondents indicated their relationship with their bank has resulted in a decrease of trust

Rather than broadcasting widespread messages to all members, or displaying generic banner ads that are not relevant to every individual, a more thoughtful and personal ‘digital recommendation’ that is targeted to individual members will result in higher impact engagement and will likely keep members from exploring more digitally advanced institutions.

The Need for More Support

There is a gap in how banks are engaging with their customers on their app and website. It’s time for banks to prepare digital channels in a way that truly services customers and makes them feel more supported.

33% of respondents felt their bank has not provided support

When asked whether their bank has offered support or assistance during the pandemic, 33% said their bank had not provided support or assistance during this time. Of those who accessed support, 43% had to proactively ask or apply for it. Among those who accessed support, 64% did so in-person or via phone. Your customers should not have to come to you when they need help. This is an opportunity for banks to anticipate the individual needs of their customers during times of hardship, and truly strengthen relationships.

Proactively engaging with members through a mobile app, and providing relevant guidance based on their unique financial situation, will reduce the burden on call centers and greatly reduce the need for in-person visits, further reinforcing the important proposition that a bank is there to support its customers well being.


App Experiences that Customers Would Like to See

Diving deeper into the average bank app, members ranked the following as the top 2 experiences would like to have:

  1. Information or guidance relevant to my financial situation (e.g., an article with advice on home-buying when I’ve just applied for pre-approval on a mortgage)
  2. Offers relevant to my financial situation (e.g., an offer to open a savings account when I’ve just made a large deposit)

Relevancy when communicating with customers is key. Advancing digital personalization strategies are pivotal to moving quickly and addressing customer pain points. The overall survey results highlight a critical opportunity: banks can expand their existing relationships with customers by being a thoughtful advisor that continuously demonstrates empathy for what each individual is experiencing.



In Summary…

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious challenge to the bank industry in almost a century. It’s an opportunity to reset and redefine the customer experience. In normal times, large-scale digital transformation can appear risky, however we are now seeing a rapid acceleration of such initiatives across the industry. With larger institutions, these strategies were based on 5 to 10 year plans but are now occurring at a much faster pace.

A unique advantage that banks have is their ability to move even more quickly in comparison. By partnering with the right technology partner, banks can rapidly advance digital innovation to better serve customers, anticipating their current and future needs, and achieve high-impact, personalized engagement in a matter of weeks. Thereby, building deep relationships that can weather the crisis and stand the test of time.

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