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Banks: Digital transformation forges emotional connections

QuickLook Blog

Retail banks across the globe are expected to invest $9.7 billion in digital banking capabilities in the front office alone in 2018.¹ However, they vary in the maturity levels of their digital transformation journeys. While one-third of retail banks globally are still in the process of creating new digital products or services, 44 percent are at an advanced stage or have completed digital transformations.²

October 17, 2018

A blog post by Richa Wadhwani, assistant manager, Banking and Capital Markets, Deloitte Support Services India Pvt. Ltd.

What we learned from our 2018 global digital banking consumer survey

The Center for Financial Services recently conducted a survey of 17,100 consumers across 17 countries to measure consumer perceptions and expectations of banks' digital banking capabilities. We also captured their current state of digital engagement with their primary bank (the one they rely on the most for their banking needs), and the likelihood they will use additional digital banking services in the future.

We found that customer satisfaction with banks is high—two-thirds of the respondents are completely or very satisfied with their primary bank. However, we also discovered that consumers have a stronger emotional connection with top technology brands (which are often also their favorite brands) than with their primary banks. Research has shown that emotionally connected consumers are more valuable than highly satisfied ones.3

We believe that technology companies' best-in-class digital capabilities, and the seamless experience they provide over digital and physical channels, are some of the reasons why consumers have strong emotional connections to technology brands.

Accelerating digital transformation in banking

Read the report

The correlation between digital engagement and emotional connection

Our survey confirmed the positive relationship between consumers' degree of digital engagement and their emotional connection to primary banks. We ran a cluster analysis, which yielded us three distinct consumer segments:

  • Traditionalists: comprising 28 percent of the sample, are light digital users who primarily use branches and ATMs for many of their needs.
  • Online embracers: representing 43 percent of the respondents, are digitally engaged, with a clear preference for online over mobile apps.
  • Digital adventurers: constituting 28 percent of the sample, use digital channels more frequently than traditionalists and online embracers. For some services, they use mobile apps as much as—or sometimes more than—online.

Digital adventurers (the most digitally engaged segment) demonstrate a deeper emotional engagement with their primary banks compared to online embracers and traditionalists (see below). For that reason, it is an imperative for banks to increase digital engagement if they want to strengthen emotional connection with consumers.

How emotional engagement varies by consumer segment
Percentage of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed

To be fair, the rate of digital adoption among bank consumers is encouraging. Eighty-four percent of consumers globally have used online banking and 72 percent have used mobile apps at least once to access their primary bank. Moreover, consumers across all generations and in all countries use online banking portals and mobile apps more frequently than branches and ATMs for banking services. However, digital banking usage is largely transactional and informational in nature, such as for transferring money and updating account details. Although 78 percent of consumers have paid their bills via online or mobile channels, only one-third of loan applicants used these digital channels. The trend holds true even for digital adventurers, banks' most digitally engaged consumers.

What banks can do to encourage more consumer engagement?

The good news is that consumers are willing to engage more with their primary banks. They will likely make more use of digital channels (mobile and online) if banks increase security, provide more real-time problem resolution, and allow more regular banking transactions to be handled digitally. Specifically, banks could emphasize the convenience of digital with traditionalists, expand mobile apps' capabilities to engage online embracers, and transform mobile as an experiential channel for digital adventurers. Similarly, consumers are likely to use branches more often if banks add digital self-service screens at brick-and-mortar locations or make it easier for consumers to connect virtually with a bank representative. Clearly, blending digital capabilities into physical channels and vice versa should feature in banks' strategy to emotionally connect to consumers and accelerate their digital transformation efforts.

What do you think?

Where does your institution stand on the digital transformation agenda? To learn more about our digital banking consumer survey, please read our report Accelerating digital transformation in banking

Join the conversation on Twitter @DeloitteFinSvcs.


Banks ICT Spending Predictor 2018, Ovum, February 2, 2018
ICT Enterprise Insights 2018/19 – Financial Services & Payments: ICT Drivers and Technology Priorities, Ovum, September 2018
Scott Magids, Alan Zorfas, and Daniel Leemon, "The New Science of Consumer Emotions," Harvard Business Review, November 2015, accessed September 1, 2018

QuickLook is a weekly blog from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services about technology, innovation, growth, regulation, and other challenges facing the industry. The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not official statements by Deloitte or any of its affiliates or member firms.

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