A very interesting research report was published recently that explored what C-level banking executives and their customers thought of the service offered by retail banks. Over 2,000 customers were questioned, as well as over 100 board-level executives, to see what bank leaders and their customers really think of the service provided.

It may not be a surprise that the customers wanted the banks to do better, but it is quite a surprise to see that the majority of the executives all thought that things were fine just as they are. That highlights a major disconnect between what the banks think and what their customers want.

Customers want personalised services; they want it to be really easy to interact with their bank. Customers don’t generally think they are getting any of this from their bank and yet the leadership thinks it is already easy enough. Who is right?

Look at the figures for personalisation. Fifty two per cent of customers say that this is a real priority for them – it’s what they expect from a bank in 2016. With over half asking for it, it’s safe to say that most customers do not feel that banks are delivering a very personal service – but 92% of the management questioned said that they are delivering a very good or adequate personalisation strategy for customers. Just 8% of the management think that they might be able to improve.

It’s also interesting to see the enormous difference in how bank executives think they can make the branch experience easier. Most of them think that by making bank branches more like cafes then the experience will be better, but that misses the mark. Customers don’t want to go to their bank just to get a coffee – they want the transaction process to be easier and faster.

Anyone involved in the retail bank customer experience needs to take a look at research like this. There does appear to be a disconnect between customer expectations and corporate strategy, yet the rival challenger banks and app-based fintech services are all being built from the customer perspective. They are getting customer service right and know exactly what their customers need.

That’s a dangerous position for the banks to be in. They all need to review if they are delivering what their customers want – and soon!

What are your thoughts on the disconnect between customer expectations and executive perception in retail banking? Leave a comment here, or get in touch via my LinkedIn.