We had many conversations with representatives from major financial institutions and enjoyed the opportunity for challenge and debate.
There were some customer insights which were universally recognised, by us and the banks. For instance, our assertion that ‘people choose products and benefits not banks’ was unanimously agreed with. Similarly, when we stated that ‘sales strategy focuses on acquisition rather than deepening product relationships with existing customers’, the banks concurred.
However, we didn’t agree on everything. One insight that really challenged the preconceptions and beliefs of the banks was that customers perceive online as being an inferior channel to phone or branch. This perception was challenged emphatically. ‘Customers’ love it because it’s convenient, efficient, it’s available 24/7 and it is low effort’ was the typical counter argument.
While we accepted that in principle all of this was true in the sense that they are the drivers for consumers to use digital, we had to point out that it ignored some of the fundamental problems customers’ have when they shop online with finance providers.
As it stands today, the overwhelming majority of banks are offering very poorly designed online shopping experiences and no-one has got it completely right. Consumer confidence is therefore low. Poor navigation and categorisation make it hard to find products. Furthermore, badly designed tools fail to support product interrogation and selection, and jargon laden content can put the finance shopper off completely.
So the answer is, yes, consumers in Singapore do want to buy financial products online but the problem is the banks just aren’t doing enough to convert this desire into actual product purchases. Hence the customer’s preference for phone or branch when they want to buy a financial product.
The good news is that a lot could be achieved and many wins realised very quickly by any bank willing to make an investment in fixing these issues. There’s a huge opportunity to be had and the potential is only limited by the ambitions of the banks themselves.