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Bain’s Gerard du Toit: 30 percent of banking customers buy products from competitors

  • Banks are losing the battle to get more business from existing customers.
  • The U.S. head of Bain's banking practice joins us to discuss what banks can do to counter hidden defections.
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Bain’s Gerard du Toit: 30 percent of banking customers buy products from competitors

Something curious just popped up on our inevitable march toward mobile banking: adoption kind of hit a wall.

Sure, a lot of early adopters are comfortable using their smartphones to transact but seems an older demographic just isn’t taking to digital channels as much. Is it them or is it the fact that banks haven’t found the right formula to serve them yet?

We’re going to get to the bottom of these trends with our guest this week on the Tradestreaming Podcast, Bain’s Gerard du Toit. He leads the consulting firm’s banking practice in North America as well as the firm’s customer experience products globally. At the intersection of those two specialities, Gerard spearheads the firm’s research into customer loyalty in retail banking.

The global 2016 version of Bain’s Customer Loyalty in Retail Banking report forms the basis for much of our discussion today. Here’s the report.

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Below are highlights, edited for clarity, from the episode.

Mobile banking leveling off

Mobile banking has seen a massive upswing globally as customers have rushed to use their mobile devices for banking. But, it’s now leveling off. The adoption of mobile banking is plateauing in many markets. So, the progress going forward is going to take harder work to get the rest of the population banking on mobile. While most new technologies go through an S-curve and plateau at a certain point, this happened sooner than we expected.

For banks, the cost saving opportunity of moving to mobile is significant. It costs $4 to $5 dollars for an in-branch teller transaction where a mobile transaction costs just a few cents. It’s also a much better experience for customers — it’s anywhere, anytime, and you don’t need to stand in line.

Adoption rates for mobile banking are very high in the younger generation. But for older customers, even though they’re very active banking online, the switch to mobile is taking a bit longer.

The Netherlands as model for mobile banking

The Netherlands, the Nordics, and some of the northern European countries are further ahead in mobile adoption and taking some of the volume out of the branch. The government’s push to get rid of cash and paper has aided the Netherlands in its move to mobile banking. They’re further in electronic payments and use checks infrequently.

They’ve also just made mobile banking easy and straightforward, and they teach customers how to bank on a device. So, they’ve built policies and processes around mobile adoption.

In the U.S., we have the UI down pretty well. But we’re behind in policy. For example, if I want to deposit a check from my phone, I can do it but it still takes a day or so before my money is available. I’m still limited by how much I can deposit via remote deposit capture. There’s a limit in how much I can deposit like this in aggregate during the month.

Even younger customers, who are more inclined to do mobile banking, visit the branches as much as older customers do. The difference is that they try mobile or digital first, before taking a trip into their bank. Eliminating digital fails caused by upstream policies and teaching older customers how to get comfortable banking on mobile is the one-two punch to get markets that are behind to the levels that the leaders are around the world.

Customers are cheating on their banks

Hidden defection occurs when a customer leaves his current account with a bank but buys a new banking product from a competitor. Our research found that in the U.S., about a third of bank customers take their business elsewhere every year. This is a striking and important opportunity for banks to go after.

In the U.S., people generally buy a new financial product every two years. But less than half the time do they buy that product from their primary bank. This is clear evidence of a lack of loyalty. The primary bank should have an advantage: they have the customer already, they know something about him, they should be able to pre-approve a product and offer a better overall rate. But they don’t. It’s even worse — primary banks are disproportionately losing the battle for more profitable products like loans.

 

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