What Do Consumers Want From Financial Institutions?

I recently published a report called What Consumers Want From Financial Institutions which examines what US consumers think is most important when doing business with banks, credit card providers, investment firms, mortgage providers, and educational loan providers.

We asked nearly 5,000 US consumers to select one of the following six options that they thought was most important when dealing with each of those institutions: nearby locations, good service, product/service quality, good reputation, product/service variety, low prices, or none of these. And then we analyzed the responses across 5 different generations: Gen Y (18-27 year olds), Gen X (28-41 year olds), Younger Boomers (52-62 year olds), Older Boomers (53-62 year olds), and Seniors (63+ year olds).

Here’s what consumers want from different financial institutions:

  • Banks: Nearby locations and good service.  Nearby locations and good service were picked more that twice as frequently as any other characteristic for banks. It turns out that Seniors are the most interested in service and Gen Xers showed the most interest in nearby locations.
  • Credit card providers: good service. Good service was the most important characteristic that consumers selected for their credit card providers, and it was especially important for older consumers. But Gen Xers were most frequently looking for low prices.
  • Investment firms: good reputation. Consumers most frequently selected good reputation, followed closely by good service and product/service quality when it came to investment firms. Older Boomers were the most likely to pick a good reputation, while Seniors most frequently selected good service. 
  • Mortgage providers: low prices. Consumers most frequently were looking for low prices from their mortgage providers, this was particularly true for Gen X and Younger Boomers.
  • Educational loan providers: low prices. Many consumers did not find the most important characteristic for educational loan providers on our list, but low prices was picked more than twice as often as any other characteristic. Gen Y and Gen X were the most price sensitive.

The bottom line: Banks and credit card companies REALLY need to examine their service experiences.

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I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

3 thoughts on “What Do Consumers Want From Financial Institutions?”

  1. Congrats with your blog milestone, Bruce! Interesting data – will be good to research the development in the importance of low rates/fees as satisfaction driver in the investors category. I remember low rates being the second-most important factor when choosing an investment firm.

  2. Tim: Awesome to hear from you; I hope that you’re enjoying Sapient (for everyone else, Tim used to be an analyst at Forrester). It’s interesting that only 4% of consumers selected “low prices” as the most important thing for working with an investment firm; responses ranged from 2% for Gen Y and Seniors to 7% for Gen X. My take is that investment firms can (and should) build differentiation from things besides price.

  3. Maybe some of the problem in the banking environment is that common sense takes a back seat to analysis and evaluation. As we work with firms to build an effective new customer onboarding experience (with gaining a knowledge of the customer, looking out for the customer’s best interests, and helping the customer get engaged with their new account), doing the ‘easy things’ get forgotten as they try to boil an ocean. A simple thank you and clear description of the service is a good start as is making sure the customer gets in the right acount to begin with.

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