Celent to Banks: Don’t Just Focus on Mobile Banking

February 1, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Mobile banking has increasingly become a part of the landscape for banks all over, and with good reason. Customers like it, since it means useful banking functions are no longer only available during the same time of day those customers have to work to make the money to give banking functions value. Banks like it since it means a lot more availability without a lot more hiring. Yet even as some banks wonder if, perhaps, the mobile experience can throw over the physical one, Celent offers new insight suggesting that the in-person experience shouldn’t be ignored.

To that end, Celent released a new report, titled “Optimizing the In-Person Customer Experience”. The study addressed three key points and offered a slate of potential solutions to address these points. The key points included what the opportunity was for optimizing in-person experiences, what some current solutions were, and why so few banks are putting any actual investment behind bringing these tools into play.

One of the biggest points Celent’s report noted is that a poor customer experience at the branch level—long waits, rude or unhelpful staff, so on—was actually one of the biggest reasons customers considered switching banks at 47 percent of cases. Moreover, just shutting down a branch in a small town isn’t a boost to loyalty, either; 39 percent considered switching banks after the nearest branch wasn’t so near any more.

Yet even here, mobile shows its value; a poor mobile or online experience was for 36 percent of users sufficient to change banks. Poor ATM experiences, interest rates that didn’t match the market, and introductory offers from other banks rounded out the list.

This might seem like an odd dichotomy, but the study makes it clear: customers want to use mobile and online banking, but when they need to engage with the bank—get more information, set up new options, fix problems—this called for a physical visit. That’s likely why a poor branch experience or a lack of a nearby branch so often figured into plans to switch banks.

In the end, it’s clear: mobile is a big part of bank customers’ lives and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. But believing that mobile will be a replacement for the physical branch is just asking for trouble, trouble no one needs.