Banks Come out on Top with Customers: What Can Others Learn?

Customer paying with contactless card

Explain Market Research, one of the UK’s leading customer insight agencies, has explored how companies turn customers into fans, and banks came out on top.

The insights were discovered at an intensive five-day sprint during this summer’s NWG Innovation Festival, where design sprint members established that companies needto create a deeper connection based on shared values to turn customers into fans – enabling meaningful engagement.

Banking and banks were consistently praised during the design sprint, and common themes such as the digital nature and transformation of banking, not having to always interact with a person and ease of use were identified as positive themes.

Kim Davis, managing director of Explain, highlights what other companies can learn from the banking industry.

Digital Disruption

The banking industry has been forced to adapt to a new way of operating, putting the customer journey before anything else. With nearly 6,000 local branches closing their doors since 2010, it has never been more important for financial institutions to transform their strategies to digital-first.

During the sprint session, there was consistent feedback suggesting that banks have a reputation for being personal in their digital interactions with customers, and this should continue in the digital era where there is lots of opportunity
throughout the customer journey.


The rise of contactless payments means less contact with people, and this was raised as a positive in the sprint session. In 2017 debit cards overtook cash for the first time due to the growing popularity of contactless payments and there are no signs of this alternative payment method slowing down.

As well as contactless payments, self-service machines are also becoming more popular, with more than half of young Britons saying they would be happy to pay for goods via machine instead of a person. Although some people still prefer customer service from a person, it is clear that the banking sector is moving towards an online-only industry, as we have seen with high street retailers.

Ease of Use

Innovative technology and user experience come hand-in-hand these days and many banks have developed advanced apps which allow customers to sign in quickly from their devices, often with a touch of their finger. Apps allow for quick payment transfers, support with lost or stolen cards, change of address and password changes – all things you no longer have to visit your local branch for. Customers are also able to call their banks directly from their apps without having to supply any details because this information is recorded on each device.

Customers of other financial services such as those provided by experian are also benefiting from increased customer engagement as result of new technology.

Kim DavisKim Davis said: “During the design sprint, we wanted to understand the differences between fans and customers, why customers may not be fans of products and services and how to increase engagement with target customers.

“Banking was the one industry that really stood out during the sessions, with sprint members suggesting that they were not only customers of banks, but fans too.

“Sprint members said they could rely on banks for a positive and personal customer experience as the banking industry has invested heavily in digital transformation, focusing on creating an easy and accessible journey for its customers. This is an industry other businesses can learn from in a time where digital-first strategies are becoming the norm.”

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