More than 40% of consumers in the UK have experienced bad service from their primary financial services provider in the past 12 months, and almost 90% do not feel entirely valued, according to a new report from market analysts, Datamonitor.
Datamonitor's report suggests that, apart from repairing a damaged image for good service, innovative banks and insurers will also have to work hard during 2004 to bring honesty and simplicity into their branding message.
Up to 60% of the UK's white-collar population feel overburdened and would welcome less complicated products and less hassle from their bank. Datamonitor points out that this will only be possible in a competitive environment in which bankers and insurers are able to make more personal contact with customers and improve the targeting of their direct marketing efforts.
Financial services providers certainly have a lot to live up to if they are to meet current consumer expectations on service, as 55% of consumers say they expect superior levels of service in their relationships with banks and insurers. The remaining 45% did not have lower demands - instead they simply had lower expectations, believing that financial services companies would not give them any more than 'adequate' service.
Experiences of bad service are very frequent, according to Datamonitor's research, with 43% of consumers saying they had experienced bad service from their primary financial services provider during the past year. Perhaps not surprisingly, 87% do not currently feel entirely valued by their primary financial services provider. Among that proportion of consumers, 15% do not feel valued at all.
Can't pay, won't pay?
But few customers seemed willing to pay for improved service, as 41.5% say they expect excellent customer service to come as standard, and only 13% expect to pay for superior levels of attention. Almost 60% of consumers say they can see the benefit of reducing the number of financial contact points they deal with but only 36% would be happy to pay extra for services that make this happen (e.g. product-aggregating websites).
"This doesn't paint a very positive picture in terms of current service levels among financial services companies, yet this situation leaves considerable scope for companies who can deliver service over and above expectations and gain the appreciation of disillusioned customers," commented Datamonitor financial analyst, Gunter Seymus, who authored the report entitled 'Consumer Insight for Financial Services'.