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Spain Pan-European survey reveals that consumers want banks to concentrate on better connections between web and branch

November 09, 2007
  • Majority (65%) say online self-service is channel of choice, with branch a close second (53%)
  • Integration between online and branch is key to improving customer experience
  • Mobile lags as least preferred support channel (5%)

New research from Fujitsu Services into the experiences of 2,500 retail financial services customers across Europe suggests that investments by financial services organisations in pilot mobile banking services could be missing the mark: what customers really want is the convenience and choice of the web, integrated seamlessly with face-to-face contact in high street branches.

When receiving support, the majority (65%) said that they now prefer online, with face-to-face contact in a branch (53%) a close second. Call centre contact over the phone was third choice at 43%, while mobile services (Internet or SMS) came bottom of the list at just 5%.

Not only are the web and branch the most preferred options – there is a strong desire that the experience should not fall down between the two. “Although much has been said in recent years about the importance of multi-channel integration, the survey suggests that integration is most critical between the two most used channels – internet and branch. The other channels are important, and standards of service need to remain high, but there is less of an imperative for them to work with each other,” explains Andy Stewart, european strategy director, financial services, Fujitsu Services.

The research - carried out by TNS using focus groups and surveys in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden – also suggests that technology driven services that are easy to use are even more important to the overall customer experience than security. When asked about what inspired their loyalty, 37% of all respondents said that a good experience of automated services was most important, with less than half that number (18%) citing security of personal details as the chief factor.

“Offering self-service options is no longer a differentiator – it’s expected by all types of customers,” Stewart continues. “It’s also expected to be easy and convenient – if online self-service doesn’t deliver then the consumer actually gets more frustrated and disappointed than if the option wasn’t there at all.”

The results of the customer survey were also used as the basis for interviews with senior executives at nine financial services companies across Europe. While customers placed value for money (43%) and customer service (41%) at the top of their wish lists, financial service providers believe that the range of products – and the number of products that the customer has with one provider – has the biggest impact on their customers’ loyalty. Customers disagree: the range of products scored as their joint lowest priority (important for 11% of respondents), along with brand reputation and provision of product information.

The survey also found that age, gender and income have a minimal effect on customer attitudes to financial services. There was a high degree of consistency among age groups, sexes and income levels on a variety of areas. For example, the profile of the purchase process was very similar with the age groups at the extreme ends of the market (18-25 and 50+) requiring most support during the ‘purchase decision’ phase. The older group was more likely to require no support during the entire process Also, there was no distinction between age or income in terms of loyalty drivers – all age and income groups agreed that value for money and customer service were the key drivers.

The research was divided into 3 phases:

  • Phase 1 was a series of 12 focus groups, 6 with 18-25 year olds and 6 with 50+ year olds to explore the impact of self-service on customer experience and their buying behaviour. Focus groups were held in UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.
  • Phase 2 took the output of these focus groups and designed a quantitative questionnaire which was delivered as a web survey to 2400 respondents. Half the respondents were 18-25 years, and the other half were 50+ years. Consumers were surveyed in UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands.
  • Phase 3 took the output of the original focus groups and was used to design a discussion guide for depth interviews with 13 financial services and retail organisations across UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.

The research was completed by TNS in Spring 2007.

About Fujitsu Services

Fujitsu Services is a leading European information technology services company. Its business is helping its customers realise the value of information technology through the application of consulting, systems integration and managed service contracts. It serves customers in the private and public sectors across Europe including retail, financial services, healthcare and government. With an annual turnover of £2.56 billion (€3.22 billion), it employs over 21,000 people across 20 countries. Headquartered in London, Fujitsu Services is the European IT services arm of the US$53 billion (€32.9 billion) Fujitsu Group. Visit pt.fujitsu.com or uk.fujitsu.com for more information.

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