We’ve stopped what we are doing and creating your personalized BrandZ™ report, which will appear in your inbox soon.

Trust | Sustaining trust raises challenges, as touchpoints become digital

Trust | Sustaining trust raises challenges, as touchpoints become digital

Banks need to balance tech with human interaction

Jane Ostler

Global Head of Media, Insights




From apps to blockchain, banks continue to be one of the most digitally disrupted sectors. After a series of mis-selling scandals, trust in banks is gradually being rebuilt. A greater focus on the quality of every single touchpoint and interaction is needed to sustain trust, to retain customers and attract new ones.

Meanwhile, the banking sector also needs to cope with increased expectations of customer service in a fast-moving world of social media, while replacing outdated processes and technology infrastructure. The more recent start-ups have an advantage: they can offer flexibility, personalization and customer service across all their touchpoints, with the benefits of starting from a clean slate, untethered by legacy property leases, restrictive branch opening times, and costly paper billing.

Newer banks, such as Monzo in the UK, use digital as their start point, leveraging the advantages of technology to develop a one-to-one, close relationship with their consumers, providing not just access to banking services but also a community. As consumer preferences shift to digital, new players, or those that innovate rapidly, may be able to build a trust advantage over legacy banks.

Globally, our Connect studies show that digital touchpoints account for 34 percent of brand experience in the banking category, which makes them even more powerful than physical touchpoints and traditional advertising. In consumer banking, the digital product experience is key to engaging customers.

In more advanced markets like Norway, the primary touchpoints in financial services are digital (payment apps) followed by the physical experience (branch visits). More recent digital touchpoints (payment apps, online banking, product reviews, and chat-based customer service) are now important for a growing number of consumers. We know that younger audiences expect brands to cater for their requirements and for services to fit around their lives, not the other way around.

Our customer experience work across 13 markets in this sector shows us that 76 percent of people use online banking for private banking, while 34 percent use mobile. China is ahead with 49 percent using mobile. In China, Tencent-owned WeChat provides us with a glimpse into the future of connected financial services. WeChat Pay enables mobile payments using a QR code, allowing customers to pay rent, donate to charity, transfer money and even invest.

Customer service needs the human touch

For customer service, people still tend to reach out via traditional means (telephone or branch visits). To understand this, it’s useful to compare the use of traditional channels with the use of legacy digital channels (website and online banking) and newer digital ones (apps and social media). When asked which ways they get in contact with their bank, 84 percent say via traditional means, 29 percent say via legacy digital, and 13 percent say via new digital channels. So, for banks to be trusted, they must not only offer high quality, blended service across all channels, but also need to retain the human touch in a digital age.

Data usage is the key to creating personalized customer experiences built around customer needs. Angel Canovas, Global Director of Paid Online Media at the Spanish bank BBVA, says that banking is an industry that lives off data, much of it first party, but that they need “well-structured data that is easily activated.”

BBVA launched its Bconomy app in 2016, which according to Forrester Research, is the best banking app. BBVA can track customers’ income and expenses and creates a personalized action plan. It also allows them to open an account using a selfie. Easier switching, enabled by legislation, lets consumers vote with their thumbs. 

With all of these exciting developments, there is still some way to go for banks in developing effective communications. We know from Kantar’s Winning Over Women report that UK financial institutions are failing to connect with female customers at every stage of the buying journey, from advertising to offer. Advertising fails to communicate core tenets of trustworthiness, understanding, dependability, and accessibility to women. Advertising in this category also solicits positive responses less often from women than from men, according to analysis using our facial recognition technology.

The integration of products and services in banking, potentially bundling with other services to save time, means that the “platformization” of banking is only just beginning. IBM has developed a blockchain-based global payments system to clear and settle payments across borders.

For customers, banks will increasingly use data insights to offer real-time customer service, augmented by human-like chatbots, only using human support for complex cases. Biometric cards and facial recognition will start to be more widely used for security. However, to regain and maintain trust in a digital age, banks will need to stay human and remain sensitive to the requirements of different customers.