Why you should care
Because banks are starting to pay attention.
Dealing with banks has long been known to test customers’ patience. But the tide is turning. In fact, the majority of consumers now believe that a host of other transactions — from using a ride-hailing app like Uber or Lyft to purchasing airline tickets — are even more taxing.
Some 73 percent of consumers say it’s easier to open a bank account than sign up for cable.
In all fairness, cable companies and airlines aren’t always the easiest to deal with. However, a recent study by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services based on 3,000 respondents who recently opened a bank account shows that consumers are more accepting of the application process when it comes to banks’ protocols.
While the study’s findings might contradict the popular assumption that signing up for, say, a ride-hailing app is quick and easy, some 45 percent of survey respondents somewhat agree or fully agree that opening a bank account is easier than calling an Uber or Lyft. According to the report, this might be because users view their relationship with banks differently than they do other types of service interactions and that consumers’ knowledge about regulatory requirements could be tamping down expectations around speed and complexity.
“Even though banks are still collecting a lot of information about their customers and have regulations to adhere to, consumers believe that banks are using that information to improve their financial lives,” says Val Srinivas, banking and securities research leader at the Deloitte Center for Financial Services and an author of the report. In fact, 63 percent of consumers believe regulations that require banks to collect information and documentation are beneficial. The customers’ profiles help to speed up transactions and tailor the sale of products to the individual, for example.
Indeed, a customized, concierge-like approach to banking is winning over customers, says Srinivas. And they’re going out of their way to help millennials, he adds. One approach: intuitive mobile apps. “Clearly, millennials want to be more digitally engaged, and banks are working toward that,” says Chris Allen, managing director at Deloitte Consulting LLP and another author of the report. “They’re doing so to meet customer expectations and also in fear of being left behind.”
Still, 27 percent of respondents believe there’s room for improvement when opening a bank account. For example, they’d like to see more empathetic bank staffers and have the option to open bank accounts online or with their mobile phones (only about 5 percent of respondents had opened a bank account online).
Matt Schulz, a senior analyst for CreditCards.com, cautions that banks might be benefiting from low expectations in this survey. “Most anyone would expect signing up for a bank account to be more arduous and time-consuming than signing up to use a mobile app, so it is likely easier for the bank to exceed expectations when it comes to user experience,” he says. He adds that people also understand the importance of diligence when opening a bank account. “It’s serious business that needs to be done cautiously,” Schulz explains. “That makes it quite different from a ride-sharing app, from which a consumer wants the quickest, simplest sign-up process possible.”
He also says heated competition has forced banks to re-evaluate their processes. “Financial behemoths aren’t just competing with each other anymore,” he says. “They have to compete with startups and other companies trying to disrupt the banking business.” In the end, that means they’re working harder to stay in the good graces of customers.