Surveys on customer satisfaction in banks follow one another and, unfortunately, their results are similar: the French are not happy with their bank. According to one of the latest surveys to date carried out by Ipsos Game Changers and Trusteam Finance in June 2016 (1)Only 1 in 4 French people say they are very satisfied with their bank and would be prepared to recommend it. This figure is low, especially considering the investments that all retail banks have been making for years to reverse the trend. Online banks are doing better with 37 % of very satisfied customers, which is still very insufficient.
Chis observation is worrying, especially for banks. Customers have a choice and can change banks: every year, 12.5 % of the French change their main bank (while keeping an account there, in nearly 40 % of cases, which somewhat confuses the issue). The novelty, which should be of greater concern to traditional players, is that more and more of these unsatisfied or dissatisfied customers are turning to the banking services offered by fintechs.
Is fintech doing better?
Apparently so! According to the 2016 edition of the World Retail Banking Report Capgemini-Efma, 63 % of the customers surveyed worldwide (61 % in Western Europe, but 77 % in Latin America) are already using the products and services of these new players who compete with banks on their former preserve: means of payment, portfolio management or credit. Fintech customers are significantly more inclined to recommend their services to their relatives (55 %) than to recommend those of their bank (38 %). What is the reason for this 17-point difference in favour of fintech? Three characteristics favoured by their customers: ease of use (cited by 82 % of respondents), speed of service (81 %) and quality of customer experience (80 %).
A serious misperception...
The surprising - and perhaps the most illuminating - revelation of this study is that the banks surveyed tend to strongly underestimate the importance that customers place on these aspects, as shown in this infographics :
This perception gap partly explains the problem of customer satisfaction in retail banking: traditional banks are unable to give priority to what matters more and more to their customers, especially the youngest ones.
The craze for fintech, threat or optical illusion?
While recognizing fintechs as a competitive advantage in terms of agility and innovative capacity, traditional banks also fail to see fintechs as serious competitors. In the short term, they are not really wrong since, today, no fintech covers the full range of banking services that any traditional bank can offer. In ultra-banked countries such as ours, customers who use fintech services do so on an ad hoc basis and do not abandon their bank. The craze is therefore to be put into perspective, particularly in Western Europe where the ageing structure of the population is a brake on the outright abandonment of traditional banking services.
The big banks would be wrong, however, to bet on the conservatism of their customers or the fact that only 10 % of the French want to have a bank accessible only on the Internet, according to the 2016 observatory of the image of banks (BVA- Fédération Bancaire Française). The adoption, even on a one-off basis, of these new services - simple, practical and, what's more, inexpensive or even free - can only be to the detriment of those who have hitherto had a monopoly on them, i.e. the banks. This is a further attack on the banks' margins, which have already been reduced to a mere pittance. Under these conditions, it is hard to see how the banks could preserve what customers are still very attached to: having a dedicated adviser who follows them personally (desired by 56 % of the customers), and being able to go to a branch, even if they do so less and less, knowing that only 29% are quite ready to do without one.
It's a paradox: customers love to hate their bank as it is, but they don't want it to change, even if they are not fully satisfied with it. And by turning to non-bank players, they are forcing banks to accelerate their digital transformation, which cannot be done without radically questioning branch networks and the role of bank advisors. A real problem in a country like France, where there are more than 37,000 bank branches employing some 300,000 people?
(1) The survey conducted by Ipsos focuses on customer satisfaction in 12 business sectors (automotive, energy, mass distribution, specialised distribution (sports, DIY/furniture, clothing/cosmetics, leisure), e-commerce, luxury goods, tourism, telephone operators, banking, insurance, high-tech - small household appliances, public sector), in 5 countries (France, UK, Germany, Spain and Italy). 1,000 people per sector and per country were surveyed online.