Consumers prefer to visit a branch and speak to staff face-to-face when dealing with their financial affairs, despite the evolution of technology and the emergence of new digital communication channels, according to an online survey commissioned by business insights expert Equifax and conducted by YouGov.
Direct interaction was rated the top choice by 32% of respondents, with 19% choosing to telephone their financial provider and 15% visiting a website. Only 8% prefer email and just 6% prefer secure online messaging via the provider’s website.
The research indicates that these communication preferences could be driven by security fears, which remain a major issue when it comes to using a financial services provider’s website. In the survey 34% of consumers who have not visited a financial services provider cite security concerns as the reason. More than a third (35%) of all survey respondents believe their bank does not communicate very much, or at all, about the security precautions of using services online. 34% have felt cautious when using websites for financial reasons, 23% have felt frustrated and 10% have wanted to abandon a transaction.
The research also showed that among consumers accessing financial services online, a significant proportion use mobile devices (37% for smartphones/mobiles and 34% for tablets/iPad). Yet half of those surveyed feel it is less secure to access financial websites using a smartphone than a desktop computer, and 48% believe it is more difficult. This indicates that there is demand for access to services while on the move, but providers need to reassure customers of the safety and efficiency of mobile access.
Fraud is a major issue for consumers: the survey suggests that the traditional letter is seen as the most trustworthy method of communication, with only 16% of consumers being concerned that a letter from a financial services provider was a potential scam. All other forms of contact are viewed with much more skepticism; 60% of consumers would be worried about the legitimacy of the communication if their financial service provider contacted them by telephone. Email is also viewed by 58% of consumers as a concern, 57% for text and 56% for social media.
John Marsden, fraud and identity expert at Equifax, says: “People are becoming much more aware of the types of fraud and scams they could fall foul of, especially when it comes to their sensitive personal and financial data. Both the evolution of technology and new approaches by fraudsters bring fresh challenges for financial service providers who must put robust systems in place to help develop trust between them and their customers.
“In order to encourage more consumers to use digital communications providers must up their game. Consumer demand for convenient and easy access to their finances through online portals on a range of devices is growing, however to meet this demand effectively, providers need to provide reassurance that it is secure and data is protected.
“Reducing exposure to fraud must be done in a way that improves rather than complicates your customers’ journey. The right technology needs to be in place and the protection you provide to your customers must be clearly communicated to them.”