Some might argue that retail banking is known more for its inconveniences than its convenience. As an example, the common term ‘banker’s hours’ is synonymous with “being open for the shortest and most inconvenient amount of time”. Despite that legacy, retail banks have made a concerted effort and real progress to extend services through various delivery channels to improve the retail banking customer experience.

Banks may have closed the customer service gap with other industries, but like other industries, must stay ahead of the consumer to deliver an experience that provides profitable value and differentiation. According to a recent report, what most customers want from their banks is greater access and more personalized experiences (in the form of advice, products, and services).

It’s not a surprising conclusion especially to the banking industry which has adapted a retail industry term – omnichannel – to describe the needed capabilities to deliver a consistent customer experience across all channels.

The Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report for Retail Banking – a global survey of consumers and bank professionals conducted in early 2013 – highlights the opportunities and the challenges that banking institutions face in meeting current and future customer expectations. Globally, consumers ranked availability, competence, and efficiency as top banking customer experience attributes. It’s increasingly clear that these attributes are linked to customer expectations across all delivery channels, in no small part due to the population’s pervasive connectivity. Failure to deliver a compelling experience in one channel could have a greater negative impact on customer perception in the future. The key takeaway for banks… agility achieved through a holistic omnichannel delivery strategy is critical for improving customer experiences.

Cisco’s Connected Customer Experience survey also suggests that banks have a way to go to deliver services that are perceived as ‘personalized’. In the U.S., slightly less than half of consumer respondents believed their bank knows enough about them to deliver personalized service, however, 69% indicated that they would be willing to share more information in exchange for tailored service. 58% of bankers felt their institutions knew enough about their customers to provide personalized service.

Are banks being too optimistic? It’s unlikely. Identifying which data provides beneficial insights to consumers’ daily lives is no small task nor is mining and exposing it across channels effectively. But we can be sure that these ‘big data’ analytics will play a significant role in the future delivery of more personalized banking services. What constitutes a personalized service? Protection from dangers (e.g. identity theft), improved use of funds, and financial education ranked high with consumers who also expressed receiving these services through an advisory channel. More than half of consumers in the global survey indicated that interacting with a financial advisor or expert could help simplify the management of their finances.

Consumers also desire greater access in the form of more flexibility with the expectation of better service. The survey indicates that consumers expect to interact more with their banks over a greater number of channels. For example, 48% of U.S. consumers would be comfortable if the entire process of securing a loan were conducted through virtual channels (defined as phone, email, video, and instant message (IM)). 34% indicated that they would be willing to have video chat with their financial advisor with 72% preferring to do that from their home using a tablet or computer versus a smartphone.

The trend toward meaningful connection over virtual channels contains an important message for banks. No longer is the branch the only channel where high-value relationships will be sought or developed. The good news is that the branch is likely the best channel for introducing new high-touch advisory capabilities, such as high-definition video with remote financial experts that can be expanded to other channels over time.

In conclusion, the future of the retail banking customer experience looks increasingly to be defined by a seamless high-tech and high-touch environment that provides valuable, personalized consumer services through optimized delivery capabilities that enable banks to maximize opportunity capture across customer segments.

For more information, the survey findings from the Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report for Retail Banking are found here:

Press Release

Global Data

U.S. Data


Al Slamecka

Global Financial Services BDM

Cisco Industry Solutions Group