Financial Services customers call for a human touch in the digital age

Despite a surge in use of online and mobile apps, people in France want their banks and insurers to retain a human touch, finds BT and Avaya study 
French people are fundamentally changing the way they deal with their banks and insurers, according to a new study by BT and Avaya. The study found people are using a growing number of different ways (or channels) to contact their financial services providers such as face to face at the branch, telephone, mobile app, website and ATM machine. 

Much of this growth is the result of a surge in the number of people using digital channels such as mobile apps, web-chat and video calls to interact with their financial services provider. 22 per cent of people now use mobile apps and web-chat is used by eight per cent. Six per cent of people online have used video to contact their financial services companies in 2014. The emergence of video as a new contact channel could help financial services companies provide a human touch in the new digital age, something that is particularly important to French people. 

Social media is also growing in popularity as a contact channel, with the study showing that 10 per cent of people have used Facebook to interact with their financial services providers. The potential for organisations to use this channel is evident as 52 per cent of French people use Facebook at least two times a week. 

But despite the growing use of these digital channels, it appears that people still want the human touch traditionally delivered by their bank branch. The study found that 77 per cent people visited a branch in the year surveyed and 66 per cent have contacted their branch by telephone. 

Perhaps this explains why French people are more trusting of banks than those in other countries such as the UK and Spain, with 78 per cent believing they will treat them honestly and fairly and 51 per cent describing their relationship as strong. 
The study finds that 45 per cent of people buy more from finance companies that are easy to do business with. Yet some people say they are frustrated by inconsistencies across banks’ and insurers’ different channels. For example, 27 per cent of people phoning a contact centre worry that the service they want won’t be available versus only 15 per cent visiting a branch. 

75 per cent of people say that they use self-service for simple transactions. The cost to a company of handling a self-service interaction can be as little as one tenth of that of a regular telephone enquiry, freeing up companies’ budgets to invest in improving overall customer experience. But the survey also suggests that a balance needs to be struck by finance companies in how they use this technology. 48 per cent of people think that banks and insurers have focused too much on automating services and 41 per cent say that they are too faceless. 

Fabrice de Windt, Vice President, Europe, Global Banking & Financial Markets, BT Global Services, said: “Banks and insurers looking to build loyalty and win new business will find this research very useful indeed. It captures a step-change in how people interact with their financial services providers. 

“The research shows that people have a huge appetite for new technologies that make companies easy to do business with but still want the human touch of traditional service. There has rarely been a better time for banks and insurance companies to use omni-channel strategies to engage with their customers, with interaction taking place face-to-face, over the phone, via video and web-chat. Through our portfolio of branch and contact centre technology and services, BT and Avaya can help banks and insurers orchestrate all the communication channels people expect in the most integrated and cost-effective way, helping them grow customer loyalty and win new business.” 

Edourd de Fonclare, Head of France and Iberia, Avaya, said: “With nearly four out of five people having visited their branch in the year prior to the survey, this research tells us that customers aren’t substituting one channel for another. Instead, customers are happy to combine traditional channels with digital ones to achieve the best result. 

“This increasing customer dexterity presents a real opportunity for savvy companies to differentiate themselves. By delivering an omni-channel customer service experience which is consistent yet tailored to individual preferences and habits, financial services companies can finally start to deliver an in branch-quality experience across any channel or device.” 

BT has been working with financial services companies for over 30 years, from international trading floors to retail bank branches, insurance companies’ contact centres to major corporate head offices, providing them with technology that underpins all aspects of their business. 

About the research 
Davies Hickman Partners, independent research analysts, carried out the research on behalf of BT and Avaya. The source material was provided through an online survey of 2,000 consumers, with 1,000 based in the UK and 500 in France and 500 in Spain. Age and sex profiles were evenly distributed across the survey to create a representative sample of the population in all countries. 

Further detail about the research can be found at bt.com/financialservices 

About BT Contact 
BT is one of the leading providers of contact centre equipment and services supporting public and private sectors organisations worldwide. BT manages 10 billion minutes per year of inbound calls to its customers’ contact centres globally. Its BT Contact omni-channel portfolio, which includes a full range of Avaya technology, enables companies to set up new online channels such as social media and video contact. This helps make BT the partner of choice for organisations looking to deliver an outstanding omni-channel customer experience. 

About Avaya 
Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, networking and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. For more information please visit www.avaya.com/uk