Georgia Zhuang, Vice President, Nielsen China
In China, recent gains in income and the growth of the middle class over the past decade have dramatically increased the demand for retail banking services. While the finance industry has responded with greater numbers of offerings and services, many Chinese consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with several banking services and their overall customer experience. In fact, a recent Nielsen analysis of Chinese social media conversation about retail banks found over half (55%) of the consumer comments about banking experiences were negative, compared to 15 percent that were positive.
Having recognized these challenges and with competition heating up, many banks are seeking to approach the customer experience in a new way. Indeed, as Chinese consumers increase their use of banking services from basic transactional needs (e.g., savings, credit cards) to more substantial financial dealings (e.g., loans, wealth management), banks have an opportunity to cultivate long-lasting and rewarding relationships with their customers. But, to do this, they must build trust and reinforce positive interactions at every possible customer touch point.
Traditionally, physical retail branches were the only channel for customers to interact with financial institutions. But, technological advances have led to the development of different banking channels, introducing alternative ways for banks to connect with their customers. Internet banking, mobile phone transactions, and ATM machines are all customer interactions with banks—and opportunities for banks to build consumer trust and loyalty. A recent consumer study by Nielsen found 79 percent of Chinese bank consumers use ATMs, 75 percent use online banking, and 26 percent bank by mobile phone. Satisfying interactions at each of these channels can build consumer trust and loyalty, helping to persuade them to deepen their relationship when they need additional financial services.
Banks that are successful in building brand equity and deeper relationships with customers will have a significant competitive advantage and be poised for the most robust growth. The key is to understand that all touch points are critical and ensure that the products and services offered via these channels enhance the overall customer experience at each different point.