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Your Customers and Self-Service Banking.

In recent years, as we all know, banks have been in the headlines more than they would have liked. One of the reasons they’ve been subject to so much public discontent (not necessarily the main one, obviously, but one that does exercise people) is the issue of local branch closure. The closing of local bank branches around the country is obviously more symptomatic of a deeper problem than a problem in itself, but it is a symptom that can potentially affect customers in a very real and concrete way in their day to day lives (certainly it exercises people – for example see here and more recently here). So, because it’s our business, we’ve asked bank customers some questions about the relative importance of local branch services and self-service banking. Here’s what we discovered.

We asked a wide range of people across several age profiles about what services were important to them with regards to their banking. The largest age profile that responded to our survey was 19-25 years of age (they constituted over 67% of respondents). The first question we asked was the broadest (and probably the simplest): “Would you like if your bank had a retail presence nearby?” 71.65% of respondents in this profile answered a simple “yes”. In terms of what services were most important to this group, while 90.19% of these respondents advised that a point of contact for advice and support was either very important or somewhat important, an ATM (99.4% classifying it very or somewhat important) and Self Service Banking Machine (96.8%) were overwhelmingly the most important aspects of banking to which they wanted access. 90% told us they would be likely to use a local branch of their own bank if it was open in their area, however only 2.75% advised that they would be very likely to move bank to a bank which had a local branch. 46.67% claimed they would consider such a move, but 50.59% admitted they would not be likely to move bank for that reason.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the age range “61 and over”, 85.71% of respondents in this group told us they’d like if their bank had a retail presence nearby. 81.82% of these respondents advised that they wanted this as a point of contact for advice and support, but 90.91% advised the most important single service they required was access to an ATM. 86.37% advised a cashier/teller was either very or somewhat important to them, but 72.73% also advised that visible information on products and services was an important aspect of the services local branches provided. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the importance of self service banking machines was significantly lower among this age profile, but again, 72.73% regarded it as very important. 81.82% of respondents advised that if their bank had a local branch they would certainly use it, but only 6.67% of respondents told us they would certainly move banks for that reason (with 60% exactly saying they would not be likely to move bank for that reason).

In terms of gender breakdown, 43.28% of respondents were male, 56.72 female, but the survey seemed not to reveal any major difference in focus between the genders. There were only a handful of responses where there was significant (5% or greater) difference in the answers of the respective genders. The use of a local bank branch as a point of contact for advice and support was more important to women (91.19% of women found it important, only 81.5% of men), while, perhaps paradoxically, though 96.28% of women felt self-service machines were important, only 90.45% of men felt this way. Finally, while 85.71% of men advised they would use a local branch of their bank if it were available to them, 92.86% of women felt they would use one. As for changing banks if one opened a local branch? Only 3.59% of men and 2.84% of women felt they would be likely to, with 52.69% of men and 50.71% of women both feeling they would not.

So, what does this tell us about banks and their relationship to their customers? Well, first of all, while age does play a factor in how customers use their banks, it’s not as profound a factor as you might suppose. While self service banking machines were more important to the younger cohorts, even in our oldest age range (61+), almost three quarters of people described them as important or very important, with 93.81% feeling that way overall). Across the age ranges, ATMs were overwhelmingly the most important service customers felt their banks should provide – overall 93.56% of respondents felt they were very important, a further 5.23% considering them somewhat important. This suggests a high level of comfort with self-service banking right across the age ranges of our survey. Also, while 72.44% of people would like it if their bank had a retail presence in their area, it seems as if this is a largely sentimental notion – 51.59% felt they would not be likely to change bank based on such a factor, only 3.17% feeling they would be likely to. Age seems not to be a significant factor here; while the middle age ranges have mortgages and the associated financial dealing which may make switching banks a pain, even our youngest and oldest age ranges admitted to a reluctance in switching banks.

As such, it seems that self-service electronic banking are the key services that banking customers consider important to them, despite a somewhat insubstantial sentiment to the contrary.

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