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How do customers really perceive you?

No forgiveness for behind-the-scenes problems beyond your control

Is your bank what your customers want it to be? Almost doesn't count anymore, warns Next Voices blogger Kelsey Neisen. Is your bank what your customers want it to be? Almost doesn't count anymore, warns Next Voices blogger Kelsey Neisen.

Most financial institutions would like to think that their customers view them in a favorable light. They want their customers to appreciate the effort they put forth to bring them the best technology and products they can find.

Sure, there are some finer details that haven’t been completely smoothed over—like the two different passwords for online banking and the mobile application; the “online account opening” that still requires the customer to visit a physical branch; or the “real time” card alerts that are more of a “couple of hours after the fact” alerts.

The customers won’t mind these shortcomings, right? They understand that your bank has their best interests at heart. They can overlook those little inconveniences, or develop workarounds to navigate applications that don’t play well together.

Not so understanding

Let’s gain some perspective. In 2016, Digital Banking Report completed a study called The Power of Personalization in Banking which examined consumers’ most valued aspects of their financial institution and how they feel about their financial institution. The study showed that only 34% of consumers believe their financial institution has their best interests in mind, while 43% of financial institutions think their customers believe their financial institution has their best interests in mind.

Additionally, 57% of consumers think their financial institution is a necessary utility, while 38% of financial institutions think their customers believe the same.

The data in Digital Banking Report’s study shows a significant perception gap between financial institutions and their customers, and that financial institutions consistently believe their customers think more of their bank than they actually do.

In general, consumers are not a forgiving bunch. They may temporarily tolerate your “not actually free, free checking” or a password for online banking, and another for the mobile app.

But with financial institutions adopting convenient new technologies and fintechs making it even easier to bank without leaving the couch, your customers won’t stick with you for long if the experience continues to be less than convenient.

Also, remember that your customers don’t see the “behind the scenes” processes at the bank. They don’t understand that your core processing vendor doesn’t want to play nicely with your mobile application vendor. They don’t know you’re trapped in a contract with your outdated online banking vendor for the next five years.

People want it now

And they don’t care—they just want their applications to work. When their applications don’t work, they blame your bank, not your vendor.

Although it may not technically be your fault that your bank’s digital front is not as seamless and snag-free as you wish, your customers don’t perceive it as such.

What they may be seeing is a bank that is cutting corners, a bank that is unable to keep pace with the modern world. They see a bank they don’t want to be associated with.

Kelsey Neisen

Kelsey Neisen is junior research associate at The Copper River Group, a community bank consulting firm based in Fargo, N.D. She graduated from North Dakota State University with degrees in Anthropology and Public History. In 2011, she won The Center for Public Anthropology Award for Excellence in Writing on Public Issues. Kelsey previously worked in a variety of historical institutions, including Bonanzaville, USA and the North Dakota State University Archives, where she focused on the preservation of historical documents and making them available to the public for research.

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