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Human contact(less): How tech is changing CX in banking

Human contact(less): How tech is changing CX in banking

Delivering excellent customer service has never been more important, particularly so in the world of banking. Faced with the task of turning around public perception following the 2008 financial crisis, as well as keeping pace with increasing competition from the new breed of Challenger Banks, many banks are turning to technology in a bid to streamline their customer experience.

While this change is embraced by many, there are some for whom automated machines, online banking and contactless technology prove more daunting and with recent press coverage of account hacking, there is increasing concern over the safety of such technology. But is this view simply down to generational differences? Are younger generations, who have grown up in the digital age, embracing technology, while older generations, accustomed to the personal touch, more reluctant?

There have certainly been times when I have walked into the bank and been intercepted by the meet-and-greeter determined to steer me towards a machine rather than the counter. On the other hand, I am sure my children would probably trade the friendly face behind the counter in favour of the convenience of automated technology.

So does this generational divide exist? We wanted to find out a little more, so we contacted respondents across a range of generations: the Silent Generation (those born in the 30s and 40s), the Baby Boomers (of the 50s and 60s), Generation X (of the 70s and 80s) and Millennials (of the 90s and noughties).

Perhaps unsurprisingly we found an evident generational divide between those who embrace the new style of banking and those who are more reluctant, however their customer satisfaction scores were rather more surprising.

A key finding was that 87% of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers prefer the interaction of being served by a person at the counter, whereas 80% of Generation X and Millennials prefer the speed and efficiency of automated machines for their transactions. There is a clear relationship between generation and use of online banking, with younger customers much more likely to bank online than older customers. This appears to be a conscious decision, rather than a lack of access, as 33% of the Silent Generation and 20% of Baby Boomers say that they prefer to visit their local branch.

Older generations remain suspicious of new ways of banking, such as the contactless debit card, now owned by 66% of those we asked. The majority of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers are concerned about the security of contactless which use radio wave technology making them more vulnerable to fraud, whereas Generation X and the Millennials are predominantly unconcerned.

This dichotomy between convenience and safety is crucial for many. When asked if technology has made banking easier and quicker, 88% to 100% across each generation agreed, with 63% saying they use computers for their banking transactions. However, when asked if technology has made banking safer, only 43% agreed.

What is most surprising is that, whilst Generation X, the Baby Boomers and The Silent Generation show high levels of satisfaction with their bank’s customer service, the Millennials scored lowest, at just 60%.

So why this might be? Perhaps it’s as simple as a lack of experience of banks to compare against, or perhaps with the more recent restrictions on lending they are less able to access the products that the older generations have experienced. Or maybe they are just demanding more from the products their banks are offering, leading to frustration at the service they receive.

What is clear is that while banks move towards an all-encompassing digital service that will satisfy the Millennials, they need to retain the human touch for a while longer yet if they want to optimise levels of customer satisfaction across all generations.