Banks Slow to Connect With Customers Digitally

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – A new survey of top banking executives reveals slow going on the digital banking front, in large part because financial institutions just aren't sure how to reach out to bank customers, even those who clearly want more automated banking options.

What we have here could very well be a failure to communicate.

Consider the average banking consumer’s point of view. According to Gallup, only 15% of Americans either had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in banks.

Then there’s the bank’s point of view. Gallup adds that banks don’t believe “they’re doing anything wrong.”

That’s quite a disconnect, and may help explain why banks are hesitant – even skittish – about how they communicate with customers, and are equally uncertain about how to offer their services to consumers.

That’s not an exaggeration – it’s the conclusion of a study from the Varolli Corporation, a cloud-based communications software provider in Seattle.

Varolli says that banks are starting to see a “shift” in the way retail banking customers want to interact with their financial institutions. To a point, Varolli explains, banks are changing the way they reach out to customers, especially in interacting with mobile customers and with consumers who prefer “self-service” banking options.

But banks still have one foot planted in the 1980s and 1990s when direct mail and on-site banking agents were the main sources of consumer interaction with banks – and that’s a problem, Varolli says.

The company, which surveyed 1,000 retail banking executives across the U.S., concludes that banks need to adapt to changing consumer demands, although the current evidence suggests they’re having a tough time doing so.

"Every customer interaction that companies have is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship,” noted Brian Moore, industry practice manager at Varolli, in a statement. “With the growing popularity of smartphones, customers expect a more ‘connected’ experience from the banks they interact with. Customers want extensive self-service options and expect to be engaged through multiple channels like text messaging, email, social media, interactive voice and mobile applications.”