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Consumer banking survey: Understanding customer needs

Consumer banking trends create opportunities for transformation

Many banks have faced challenges in building relationships with customers through digital channels. Our consumer banking survey explores those challenges and ways banks can differentiate themselves, cultivate loyal customers, and elevate their brands. These survey results were compiled prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, and while they offer a perspective on how customers may have felt pre-pandemic, banks should consider which of these responses may be accelerated by social distancing practices, economic challenges, and personal health concerns.

Digital strategies in banking transformation

While digital adoption in banking is growing, so far it remains transactional in nature. While many other industries have been able to establish an emotional connection with customers through digital channels, many banks have struggled to follow suit.

To understand how digital strategies can open opportunities for consumer banking transformation, Deloitte surveyed 15,876 American adult banking consumers on their attitudes toward banks, the banking services they value most, who they are turning to for these services, and the importance of brand in their decisions.

Among the trends identified by the consumer banking survey is that consumers often see banks as interchangeable: 66 percent of respondents think banks offer the same services, and 75 percent think that banking products and services are the same across all banks. This raises a question: What can banks do to differentiate their services, win customer loyalty, and, as a result, bolster their brands?

Consumer banking survey: Understanding customer needs

Consider the open banking model

Open banking enables banks to broaden their ecosystems and offer a wider range of services to customers, moving more toward a full-service banking experience. The model uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to share consumers’ financial data (with their permission) with third parties, including nonbanks. It requires that customers have a certain level of comfort with sharing their information with nonbank providers. Consumers are not relinquishing ownership of their data to third parties, but merely providing interface access to their data, through which third parties can draw insights. Our consumer banking survey respondents indicate that this may not be as big a hurdle as one might think (figure 1).

Figure 1.

Another point indicating customers’ readiness for open banking is the fact that more than half (53 percent) of consumer banking survey respondents said they would like to be offered bundled products (for example, real estate services with a home loan). If banks are not prepared to offer these types of services, many consumers are prepared to move away from traditional banks, potentially leaving them to become low-margin utilities (figure 2).

Figure 2.

Tie products to life events at the right time

Although respondents in 50 percent of cases said that their banks offered products that pertained to their life events, it was well after the life event had occurred or when they had already made a decision to go with another bank’s product.

Many banks are missing the boat and are unable to find ways to know their customers and potential customers better so that they can engage with them both early and often. One way may be to participate in an API-driven open banking ecosystem that alerts the bank to customers’ life events based on information from people who have opted into sharing their publicly available social footprint or browsing activity.

Act on consumer banking trends

As consumer preferences and priorities change, banks will need to address several challenges by taking actions such as:

  • Being targeted: Know which customer segments matter most to your business and be laser-focused on the needs of these groups.
  • Playing to your strengths: Know what your brand means to your customers and understand your right to play.
  • Making it relevant: Customers are often more responsive during major life events, as they are pushed to address larger financial decisions they may have been putting off.
  • Being human: Never forget who you’re designing for.
  • Being fast and experimenting: Don’t waste time trying to get the “perfect idea”—it doesn’t exist!

If banks can truly understand the broader spectrum of client needs, it will help them move toward becoming an essential resource for a broad range of customers.

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