What’s changing – and what’s not – in consumer banking habits.

Consumer Banking BehaviorsThose of us who live our daily lives online from sun-up to sun-down may need to be gently reminded that many people are only being brought to the online world kicking and screaming.

The results of a new survey on consumer banking habits underscores this fact. Market research firm Empathica Consumer Insights surveyed more than 15,000 Americans and Canadians on their preferences for how they do their banking. The results show that while Internet banking has certainly made its mark, many people still have a preference for traditional methods when it comes to transacting routine banking business:

 Prefer Internet banking: ~41%
 Prefer branch banking: ~33%
 Prefer an ATM machine: 23%
 Prefer a mobile (M-banking) channel: 2%
 Prefer telephone banking: 1%

Moreover, it’s when dealing with an account issue or problem that consumer preferences for “tried and true” banking interfaces really come to the fore:

 Prefer to visit the bank/branch office to deal with an account issue: ~60%
 Prefer the telephone to deal with an account issue: ~34%
 Prefer online contact to deal with an account issue: ~6%

What’s more, consumers’ brand loyalty to a banking organization is mostly dependent on their perceptions of how well the bank deals with account issues or problems — not everyday banking transactions.

The quicker and easier a bank addresses an account issue, people are more apt to be brand loyal – even when compared to consumers who have never faced a banking issue or concern with their bank.

In other words, the notion of “making lemonade out of lemons” is at work here.

What about other major transactions like applying for a loan or opening a new account? The survey showed that there’s the same preference for dealing with the bank in traditional ways – face-to-face.

One of the more surprising findings of the Empathica study was how few people are using the mobile channel for their routine banking transactions. At the moment, it’s barely a blip on the scale. One factor that may be at play is that more than half of the respondents say they don’t trust the security of mobile banking (whereas only a quarter don’t trust the security of banking by computer).

But here’s a nugget that may be a harbinger of future behavior … those consumers who do use the mobile channel for everyday banking transactions say they’re highly satisfied with this aspect of their banking, and they express a high degree of affinity with their banking institution.

Like we’re seeing with so many other market segments, the mobile channel appears to be lurking just around the corner …

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