By Tracey Ah Hee, Principal, KPMG in the US and Dr. Jörg Günther, Partner, KPMG in Germany.
A KPMG consumer survey finds that retail banks in major markets are delivering a better customer experience in 2014. But are they investing in the areas that matter most to their clients?
While often labeled as customer service laggards, the retail banks in major markets earned surprisingly high - and rising - customer experience ratings in KPMG’s 2014 Customer Experience Barometer survey. However, the study questions whether banks are performing well – and investing in – the areas that matter most to customers.
KPMG’s Customer Experience Barometer is based on in-depth surveys of 5,000 consumers in five major markets (Australia, China, Germany, the US and the UK) and five key service sectors (banking, general insurance, life insurance, e-retail and utilities). The report is designed to help organizations benchmark themselves against peers across industries and geographies.
Surprising to many critics, the banks came out second when respondents were asked to rate their experience in the five sectors. While e-retailers earned first place, banking won second spot. By contrast, utilities fared the poorest. In addition, respondents were more likely to recommend their bank than any other service provider across the sectors.
The report suggested that the positive findings were largely due to the banks’ continued investment in security, technology and operational excellence. In fact, many survey participants felt that the customer experience had improved at their bank in the past year. Forty-six per cent of respondents in China said they saw a service improvement as did 31 per cent in Australia. Just 17 per cent of UK respondents felt things had improved.
The countries with the highest satisfaction with their bank customer experience were Germany and Australia, who tied for first place, with the US a point behind.
The report notes that Australia’s banks have invested heavily in customer-focused systems upgrades and data and analytics to gain a clearer picture of their customer. However, the report cautions German banks not to feel over-confident about their top spot since German banks fared poorly in brand ranking and customers still feel strongly that their banks do not truly care for their needs.
While UK banks were identified as the group with the most room for customer experience improvement, they can take solace in at least one data point: UK banks led the pack for their ability to resolve complaints at the first point of contact. US banks performed the worst in this category, with just 22 per cent of survey participants saying their complaints were handled as quickly.
Perhaps most intriguing, the report identified the service attributes that banking customers value most among 30 options, namely ‘value for money’ and ‘honest, trustworthy staff’. It then shows how the banks actually performed against all the attributes.
The comparison will surely give bankers reason to reflect, since the study found that gaps between ‘importance’ and ‘performance’ were greatest in the highest value attributes of value for money and honest and truthful staff.
The Customer Experience Barometer definitely offers food for thought since, although the banks are delivering better service than ever, they may not be investing in parts of the customer experience that actually matter most to clients.
The utility sector offers lessons to banks regarding ways to embrace customer-centricity, without letting that newfound customer-focus become lost.