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Survey endorses digital transformation in financial services but identified gaps

Out-Law News | 27 Apr 2020 | 10:41 am | 3 min. read

The results of a recent consumer survey should encourage banks and insurers to continue with their digital transformation projects after it identified broad satisfaction with the way providers of financial services have supported customers digitally through the coronavirus crisis, fintech experts have said.

However, Luke Scanlon and Angus McFadyen of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the survey did reveal areas in communication and functionality of digital capabilities that consumers felt need to be improved.

Scanlon and McFadyen were commenting after a OnePulse survey of more than 500 adults in the UK carried out for Pinsent Masons found that over 20% of respondents felt the banks, insurers, payment companies, and investment businesses they use, do not have enough online and digital capabilities to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic. McFadyen said: "Providers that have pushed the digital first principle are managing most effectively at the moment – seeing only a slight customer impact, with service levels holding up – those that have been slow to invest have had a much more challenging period."

Examples of issues cited included the quality and speed of online chat tools, issues concerning call centre support, and a lack of communication around accessing services, such as how to transfer money above online limits – critical for many house sales and purchases. Some respondents raised concern about whether and how they might cash cheques, while others reported problems in accessing web services due to the volume of traffic and suggested apps should deliver a better user experience.

Scanlon Luke

Luke Scanlon

Head of Fintech Propositions

As banks look to the future beyond Covid-19, these results indicate that customers perhaps now more than ever want to see banks continue with digital transformation and increase the ways and means through which they can support customers online.

Scanlon said: "As banks look to the future beyond Covid-19, these results indicate that customers perhaps now more than ever want to see banks continue with digital transformation and increase the ways and means through which they can support customers online. Direct communication through online chat, help for customers that may feel digitally-excluded and reassurance of the safety of their money and assets remain areas of priority."

McFadyen said: "Respondents' comments show a clear demand for the quality and availability of online chat, and an expectation that functions such as cheque imaging and making large payments are available and easy to use. Making more of the connection with 'People' was a common theme in the responses, indicating that customers expect digital services to provide a personal touch. This is difficult, but improvements to online chat tools could offer what consumers are looking for in that regard."

The OnePulse survey also asked consumers to outline what information or support they want to receive from financial providers about how they are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Common themes emerged from the answers. 

Consumers said they want information to help with money management, including help with budgeting and financial planning, and regular updates and statements on spending and income during this period, while many wanted information to help them make requests for payment holidays and interest-free periods on loans, cards, and overdrafts. More support for customer who are not digitally-minded was also highlighted.

Many consumers also expressed a desire for reassurance from their financial providers, including in relation to the safety of their finances, while there were calls for banks to offer more help and assistance, particularly where customers are struggling to make payments. Some respondents said more transparency from banks would be welcome on what they are doing to guarantee their own stability, and others said they wanted details on what their bank is doing to help vulnerable people during this period, how they are protecting their own staff, and also what they are doing to combat increased cyber and phishing attacks.