Can Consumers Be Equally Psyched About Branch and Mobile Banking?

  • Philip Ryan
  • December 20, 2013
  • 1

two_thumbs_upBank customers were asked, branch or digital? And they answered, how about both?

The Bank Satisfaction Barometer 2013 — produced by CFI Group on Dec. 5, but made public Wednesday — presents banks with a conundrum. The 500 customers surveyed use the branch network just as much as digital channels, and are equally satisfied with them.

So what’s a bank to do?

It’s common knowledge that banks are looking to shift resource from expensive full-service channels to self-service digital channels, or mediated service models in less resource-heavy branches. But nothing in this study would give a banker confidence to move in one direction or the other.

These survey respondents seemed unusually involved with their banks, heavily using both online and brick and mortar channels, and gave both channels a hearty thumbs up.

The survey produced surprising results in a number of areas. Customers were asked which bank touchpoints they had employed in the last 30 days, and 82% said they had used their bank’s website, while 77% said they had visited a branch. Both of these numbers are far higher than one would expect. No traditional bank – that is, one with a branch network – claims an online user base of 82% of total customers. The study measured online use not by whether the customer logged into the banks’ online channel, but simply that he visited the bank’s website, but even this less stringent requirement yields an unusually high figure.

Still more surprising is that nearly the same number of customers — 77% — visited a branch in the past 30 days. This number is listed separately from ATM usage (just 71%), and, put simply, boggles the mind.

“These numbers were about 10 points higher than we expected,” said Terry Redding, vice president of marketing and product development. CFI Group has several bank and credit union clients and so has a store of data with which to compare its results, although this is its first nationwide survey of customers across different financial institutions.

Other channels received less startling results, with 35% of customers reporting mobile usage, and 37% using the telephone to contact their bank.

Other takeaways from the study:

  • The primary reason for choosing a bank is branch location and convenience;
  • Frequency of use of the online channel (82%) exceeds branch use (77%), but just barely;
  • Satisfaction with bank websites (79 out of 100 on the satisfaction scale created for the study) is on par with that of branches (score: 80); and
  • The most important factor to determine customer satisfaction is the experience with the branch staff.

The study also echoed Carlisle & Gallagher’s recent unsurprising find that better and faster conflict resolution increased customer satisfaction with the bank. Satisfaction with banks has been growing as the economy has brightened, CFI has found. “Credit unions still score higher than banks with customers, but banks have shown very good improvement the last couple of years,” Redding said.

“The mobile application doesn’t look like it’s shaping up to be the make or break thing that causes people to switch banks,” Redding said, “and that branch just isn’t going away.”

In short, this study has little to tell a banker puzzled as we head into the New Year over how to dedicate sparse resources among channels. Customers seem pleased with both the brick-and-mortar and digital experience, and employ both channels heavily. Hearing these results, what’s a banker to do but keep calm and carry on?

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at

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One thought on “Can Consumers Be Equally Psyched About Branch and Mobile Banking?

  1. In a consumer’s point of view, brick and mortar channels along with full- service oriented channels must be a separate factor for consumer satisfaction. Well, technology nowadays let us demand what is easier and convenient but it is all consumer’s preference.

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