The relationship people have with their bank has proven rather fragile over the years. IAccenture’s 2019 Consumer Banking Survey, we saw a little spark returning. However, our 2020 survey reveals another major break in Belgian customers’ satisfaction, with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) collapsing to two (compared to 13 in 2019). The foundation of every relationship, also between a customer and their bank, is trust.  

The trust gap is significant, but closing with age

Digital players have unquestionably disrupted the banking ecosystem since their arrival a few years ago, and they are here to stay. For example, N26 has seen its customer base jump from one million in June 2018 to five million as of January 2020 

Although the trust gap between digital players (such as Revolut, N26, etc.) and traditional banks is notable 64% of respondents to our survey say they trust traditional banks to manage their financial data, against 14% for digital banks - this gap decreases with the age of respondents, dropping to 32% for people aged under 29 years as opposed to 59% for the over 50s.

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In this context, and to stay ahead in the overcrowded and fiercely competitive landscape of banking, incumbents have several cards they can play to outmaneuver the challengers.

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In this article, we discuss how traditional banks can continue to lead the race of trust and gain the confidence of their customers, by taking three main steps.

Step 1: Become a trusted advisor

Although 69% of respondents say they trust their bank, which is already a significant level of confidence, banks can still aim higher. Similar to previous years, our survey reveals that cybersecurity and transparency are the two areas most likely to increase trust for two out of three consumers.

Trust is not only necessary for ‘traditional’ banking services. Banks can also use their trust capital to offer services beyond traditional banking such as fiscal advice or home services, which would make them even more relevant and omni-present in people’s lives. Our survey shows that one in three consumers would be interested in beyond banking services, as illustrated in the graph below. On top of that, when asked which industry provider they would use for these types of services, nearly eight out of 10 respondents said they would choose their bank. With the under 29s expressing the most interest in beyond banking services, this could provide a route for banks to strengthen their relationship with younger generations.

Step 2: Manage liquid expectations

Today’s consumers are used to intuitive, hyper-relevant and immediate experiences, regardless of the industry. The way we interact with the likes of Airbnb, Apple or Amazon has shaped our expectations towards all the providers we engage with, including banks. Nevertheless, this remains a major pain point in relation to banks, which don’t appear to be fully fulfilling consumer’s desire for a seamless service. One out of four respondents to our survey expressed frustration about not being able to reach their bank when and where they want to. The NPS for Call Centers has also reached a record low of -36.

This may be a missed opportunity because customer experience (both human and digital) is for many respondents the most important reason to stay with their current bank: 35% of respondents consider an easy to use mobile app as their top motivation to stay, while a positive experience at their branch would convince 42% to stay. Although this survey was conducted just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we expect these factors to have grown even more important. COVID-19 has wiped away recent investments in making branches more open and connected. After years of tearing down teller windows, we are back to meeting behind screens. However, creating a positive branch experience remains important. Banks should rapidly question every reason why they still want to have customers physically present, bearing in mind that people might not feel comfortable, which would effectively kill the experience.

Step 3: Optimize the products & services portfolio

Finally, banks need to understand their customers’ frustrations in order to define and propose relevant offerings. Although our study shows that various fees charged by banks are the main source of frustration among customers (38%), banks should rather be focusing on how they can reshape their portfolio to differentiate themselves from the competition. Indeed, only 44% of respondents seem satisfied with proactive offers they receive from their bank.

Better understand the consumer to stay in the lead

This year’s Consumer Banking Survey shows that traditional banks still have a significant advantage over digital challengers when it comes to trust capital. They should use it wisely to become the trusted advisors of their customers and stay close to their lives. However, managing liquid expectations and consumer frustrations will be key to maintaining their pole position in the trust race.

Want to compare your bank’s performance with anonymized competitors and benchmarks? We’d be delighted to meet you for a chat.

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This article has been co-written by Katia Willems, Emilia Krol and Valentine Touwaide.


Adrien Kirschfink

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting

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