Face-to-Face Still Tops for Bank Communication

November 9, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Email | Financial Services | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Despite the growing availability of online and mobile banking customer service features and many banks’ intense pushes to get consumers to use such cost-saving tools, the majority of Americans would still rather contact their bank at a branch than online or through email, according to a survey from Mintel Comperemedia.

The research found that two in three adults (65%) say they prefer to get up close and personal at a bank branch to communicate, while three in seven (43%) like the phone for its real person, real-time qualities.

Only 44% of survey respondents say they like logging on to a bank’s website – secure or not – to communicate with the bank, while just one-third (34%) choose email as their? preferred method of bank communication.

“When it comes down to it, people still crave personal contact when communicating with banks,” said Susan Wolfe, VP of financial services at Mintel Comperemedia. “Talking in person or over the phone brings on feelings of familiarity and confidence, which are especially important to consumers in light of the financial crisis.”

Websites, Email More Important to Younger Customers

Despite an overall preference for in-personal communication, however, websites and email do remain important avenues for customer-to-bank contact, Mintel said.? Young adults, especially, are likely to prefer online and email communications when they want to contact their bank. More than half of Echo Boomers and Gen Xers (52% each) say they like reaching their bank through a secure website.

When Mintel Comperemedia asked survey respondents how they prefer their banks to contact them – mail, email and in person were nearly tied (43%, 42% and 40%, respectively).

“Though people have clear preferences for how they like to contact their banks, they aren’t as opinionated about how their banks contact them,” says Susan Wolfe. “Banks need to be mindful that every customer has different communication preferences, so they should offer multiple points of contact.”

The results from Mintel’s research echo those from a recent ATG study, which found? that a live voice is still the most preferred form of customer service among Americans who shop online. That study also found that consumers think that the live-help options currently available on websites are not meeting the demand that exists among consumers. Some 59% of survey respondents do not think e-mail queries to customer service or FAQ pages – the most common customer service features found on online stores today – are useful.

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