This post is part of our ongoing, occasional series on content marketing for financial services.
J.D. Power and Associates recently released the findings of the first quarterly wave of its “2014 U.S. Retail Banking Customer Satisfaction Study,” revealing some interesting retail banking trends and findings about the role of the bank branches, mobile banking and ATMs in driving customer satisfaction.
This first round of quarterly wave results are based on 21,780 surveys completed through five online panels from April 1 to 26 this year. This is the first year that the U.S. Retail Banking study results are being collected and released in waves. Over the course of four waves this year, J.D. Power and Associates plans to complete 100,000 interviews for the 2014 study. These results not only will tell banks where they should be focusing their efforts to improve customer service, but also what services they should be marketing to their customers.
Retail Banking Trends in Customer Satisfaction
Compared to the 2013 study, the quarterly wave 1 results are very positive for the banking industry. Overall, the reputation of banks among U.S. consumers continues to improve, especially among big banks (assets of $180 billion or greater). Further, consumer satisfaction with their primary bank is up significantly for banks of all sizes — but particularly for big banks and regional banks.
Customer sentiment, or consumers’ outlook on their personal financial situation, is also on the rise. About 27 percent of customers said they are better off than they were a year ago, which is up from 24 percent in 2013, and only 19 percent said they are worse off than a year ago, which is down from 22 percent in 2013.
There are also meaningful improvements in satisfaction with fees and with delivery channel experiences. As if that weren’t enough, problem incidence is on the decline.
Given all this good news, I think that bankers should take a moment to celebrate their successes. Don’t take too long, however, because there is also some work to be done. These early retail banking trends findings provide some indication of what will drive customer satisfaction in 2014, and thus, where retail bankers should focus their efforts to improve and market their improvements to customers.
Despite many bold predictions over the past 20 years, bank branches still play an important role in consumer banking. Delivery channel experiences — J.D. Power calls them “channel activities”– are the top determinant of customer satisfaction, and the branch has most significant influence of all channels.
Interestingly, the 28 percent of retail banking customers who reported having visited a branch in the past week are the most satisfied customers. Those who have not visited a branch in the past 12 months are the least satisfied. This finding held true across generations– Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.
Even mobile banking users, who have fewer reasons to visit a branch, are more satisfied if they have visited a branch in the past week and least satisfied if it’s been over 12 months.
While banks have invested heavily in encouraging customers to use non-branch delivery channels, these findings suggest that banks could benefit from inviting customers to visit the branch more frequently. A well-designed retail banking customer retention strategy should include marketing communications that promote use of the branch network.
Mobile Banking and ATM Innovation
Consumers whose banks offer innovative mobile banking and ATM options are significantly more satisfied than those whose banks do not. Innovative mobile banking features that show the greatest positive impact on satisfaction are, in order:
- Person to person payments.
- Mobile bill pay.
- Mobile funds transfer.
- Mobile deposits.
For ATMs, itemized receipts for cash deposits & personalized preference settings have the greatest positive impact.
Even if a bank has innovative mobile banking and ATM features in place or plans to put them in place, most customers won’t just stumble on them on their own. Bank marketers need to work to educate customers about the great innovative features that are available now and about new ones as they come out.
Retail Banking Priorities for 2014
These findings suggest that there are three key priorities retail bankers should focus on in order to maintain and improve customer satisfaction in 2014:
- Give bank branches the respect they deserve. Branches still serve a majority of retail banking customers, and the personal touch and assistance they receive in the branch greatly impacts their satisfaction. Retail banks should continue to support and invest in providing excellent service and sales experiences to customers who visit branches.
- Personalize non-branch channels. Explore options for creating a more personal and inviting experience at channels other than the branch. For example, USAA recently launched voice command mobile banking.
- Develop and launch the mobile banking and ATM innovations that your customers value. Work with your customer intelligence team to develop and understanding of which innovations your customers want and value the most. Then create and execute a plan to deliver those new features.
As financial services institutions look to act on these retail banking trends going into 2014, they will also need to develop strong marketing strategies to communicate the changes they’re making to their customers. Quality content will play a significant role in communicating what’s new and how it will benefit customers using bank branches, mobile banking and ATMs.
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Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.