Most customers aren’t aware that their bank offers help for the vulnerable – and would welcome the chance to explore such services.
It goes without saying that vulnerable customers need special focus, both today and going forward: the unbanked, people with disabilities, older generations and businesses and customers pressurised by debt. And the cost-of-living crisis has only made things harder for them. Banks who have strategies that recognise these audiences’ often uncatered-for needs are the ones who are likely to win the loyalty of these groups.
Providing solutions that deliver access and support to society’s vulnerable is an increasingly pressing issue for banks. The FCA’s recent Financial Lives research shows 27.7m adults in the UK possess characteristics of vulnerability such as poor health, a disability, a recent challenging life event or advanced age, impairing their ability to make rounded financial decisions. Beyond this are wider vulnerable groups, including the currently unbanked as well as those in severe debt.
We commissioned research to form an in-depth understanding of retail banks’ current challenges and opportunities and to identify in what ways they most need to adapt. As part of this we asked customers about how well their bank looks after its most vulnerable customers.
And our research indicates that banks and building societies still have a long way to go. Just under one in five customers (19%) didn’t know such services existed but would be keen to use them. A further 22% say they are aware of them, but that they don’t in fact use them.
Information systems that can relay accurate and current information on services available – and in which physical or virtual locations – need to be developed. Bereavement, debt and disability-specialist content and locations are often hard to find and are frequently only accessible online – a barrier to many vulnerable sections of society. Staff, live chat and intelligent multi-channel systems that empower customer service items to increase customer satisfaction levels are, therefore, critical.
So do banks have the right skills, tools and technology to deploy a vulnerability strategy that is holistic, inclusive and meets all the psychological tenets of human needs?
To access more exclusive insights, please download our full Rethinking banking report, where you’ll find more insights into other key retail banking trends, such as what ways banking priorities have shifted since 2020 and how banking channels have evolved.
In total, 2,000 customers were interviewed nationwide during the research, conducted by specialist research agency Opinium. The subjects were split by the five key customer generations: Gen Z (18-24), millennials (25-40), Gen X (41-56), baby boomers (57-75) and those aged 76+. As well as focusing on those different generations, data scientists have taken the research a stage further and defined six distinct new banking personas for banks. While working with the outputs from the research, they identified six new customer banking clusters – or personas – combining both traditional socio-demographic data with new behavioural, channel and attitudinal data from our recent banking research.
In the light of wholesale industry change, understanding these personas will help decision-makers in our specialist sector create more accurate (and innovative) customer solutions, spanning product, channel, service and customer experience.