It’s fair to say that customer service and retail banks have not always been natural bedfellows. Customers generally only visit their high street bank when they have a problem or when they have to complete the arduous task of depositing physical cash. The result is that banks are full of confused and frustrated members of the public arguing with staff who are shackled to following protocol.
In recent years, the rise of app-only ‘digital banks’ has aimed to capitalise on this. With digital money becoming ever more common, as well as the threat of digital currencies taking power away from traditional banking, it’s key that banks act now to take on the best parts of these new app-only rivals.
Here, we look at leading examples of the four things that customers are looking for in customer service when they are considering a digital-only provider:
1. Better online experience and functionality
Championing the better functionality that comes with app-only banks is Curve. Although it doesn’t offer direct debit payments, Curve does enable its users to add unlimited debit and credit cards and choose which one to pay with using the Curve card. Its premium accounts offer 1% cashback at a number of retailers, worldwide travel insurance and even airport LoungeKey access. Gone are the days of the long online banking membership numbers and secret words, Curve puts all spending in one place.
2. Access to different products and services
While banks like Revolut and Starling Bank offer saving pots and free aboard payments to appeal to the modern consumer, Atom Bank goes one step further by offering in-app mortgages. Its rates are freely and simply displayed on its website, which also promises to link customers up with an independent broker who will look for the best deal – and even recommend options that are not the bank itself.
3. Easy to set up an account
With its vibrant ‘hot coral’ cards, Monzo has swept the capital in recent months and now boasts more than 2 million users worldwide since its original launch as a pre-paid debit card in 2015. Monzo offers many of the features you expect from a bank and promotes the fact that it can tell customers what they have spent as soon as they spend it. A major draw is how simple it is to set up an account in three simple steps: Download the app, sign up with ID, then the card is posted out first class.
4. Better quality of service
While Atom, Monzo, Starling, Revolut and Curve all offer slightly different experiences and benefits, they all have one thing in common. They allow customers to interact with them whenever and wherever it's convenient for the customer, through asynchronous communication channels like WhatsApp or direct messaging. Traditional banks still rely on serving customers through synchronous channels such as in-branch appointments, voice or live chat - requiring customers to queue either in person or online or on the phone. Traditional banks serve customers on the bank's terms, whereas digital banks serve customers on the customer's terms.