Human be gone: Australians prefer to bank digital-first


Australian customers appear to have embraced banks’ digital-first programs, preferring to sidestep human service personnel when resolving basic banking issues, according to Yougov’s Customer Experience in Banking 2017 survey.

More than half of all Australian respondents (54 per cent) regularly make use of online banking, while just 36 per cent would seek out a branch, the survey revealed.

Commissioned by multinational tech firm Avaya, the survey covered more than 5,000 banking customers in four countries: Australia, India, the UK, and the UAE.

Given the choice of only one channel, 28 per cent of the 1,153 Australians surveyed said they would prefer to access a complete list of services via their bank’s website, only seeking a human service contact if absolutely necessary.

While Australians’ most favoured method of contact remains their bank’s website, more than one third (34 per cent) regularly make use of mobile banking apps.

Tellingly, less than one in ten respondents preferred to access services through their bank’s contact centre.

Traditional demographic preferences played out as expected, with younger Australians clearly favouring mobile services against their older countrymen. More than half of all 18-34 year olds regularly use mobile banking apps, compared to just 13 per cent of over 55s surveyed.

Indeed, face-to-face interactions remain important for older Australian customers, with one in three over 55s preferring to settle their business in-branch.

Peter Chidiac, Avaya’s managing director Australia and New Zealand, stressed the importance of coordinating interaction channels with the everyday habits and demands of customers.

“Customers see value in more than just rates, meaning banks and other financial organisations must provide an experience that aligns to the daily lives of their consumers, Chidiac said. “To meet those expectations, they have to optimise traditional transactions while enabling interactions across the latest platforms and introducing innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI).”

However, the survey authors noted, the most important consideration for Australian customers is for banks to maintain a consistent experience and service across all channels and, moreover, that their problem can be resolved on the first point of contact.

This may explain customers’ increasing aversion to call centres, where wait times can stretch beyond an hour. 

“The most common customer complaint is being kept waiting for a long time on the phone, cited by 21 per cent. This may explain why less than a quarter… of Australian respondents regularly call a contact centre.”

YouGov is a UK-based market research firm and member of the British Polling Council.