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Banks urged to balance digital convenience, human engagement

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As all banks now offer strong online banking and app platforms, perceived value needs to come through all other touch points of the customer’s banking experience.

This is according to the 2019 South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-CSI) for banking conducted by Consulta. The index is used as a national benchmark for customer satisfaction.

Consulta polled almost 15 000 customers from lower, middle and upper retail banking segments to determine their overall level of satisfaction with the country’s big six retail banks, namely Absa, African Bank, Capitec, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank.

SA-CSI for banking utilises a “causal model” that links customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value to customer satisfaction (the SA-CSI score), which, in turn, is linked to customer complaints, and customer loyalty intentions as outcomes.

Under the perceived value category, which also considers digital and online banking channels, the index says customers are increasingly looking for simplicity in all aspects of their transaction interfaces – from in-branch, ATMs, online and app.

The index reveals on perceived value, Capitec, African Bank and Nedbank lead, with FNB on par, while Absa and Standard Bank are below par.

“Digital and online banking channels are no longer the key differentiators that they were a few years ago as trends indicate all the major players in the industry are moving to a point of technological parity in so far as their transactional channels are concerned.

“Customers are placing far more emphasis on perceived value and the need for banks to retain a human touch. In order to compete successfully, banks will need to continue innovating in the digital space, but also introduce equally innovative service delivery models within their more traditional channels such as branches, ATMs and contact centres.

“After a tumultuous last two years which saw significant jockeying for position, huge investments in the digitisation of customer touch-points and the entry of new disruptor digital banks, the key players in the banking sector need to consolidate their positions by reconnecting with their customers.”

Going forward, SA-CSI advises that banks will need to better understand the nature of customer expectations, which includes striking a balance between digital convenience, value delivery and human intuition and engagement.

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