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Where Is The Love? Despite Digital Boom in Financial Services, Users Still Crave Human Contact

Getty Images has released research on the financial services industry, unveiling that consumers still seek human connections with companies such as banks, insurance and mortgage providers.

The study of 2,166 adults conducted by YouGov, reveals that people favour face-to-face and over-the-phone contact, despite the digital communication channels available to them.

In-branch contact is preferred by those aged 45-54 (39 per cent) and 55+ (43 per cent) however, the youngest of the generations surveyed still value direct human contact. For those aged between 18-34*, telephone and then branch contact followed closely behind Smartphone app communication.  

Additionally, while technology and innovation are widely considered to be drivers for financial service brand or product adoption, just five per cent of people said a company with ‘technology and innovation at its heart’ would be worth considering on that basis alone.

This provides proof that, in the age of AI, blockchain and a plethora of emerging technology trends, humanising a brand is more important than ever – especially with the closure of high street branches leading to financial services brands having fewer opportunities to speak directly to customers.

It’s clear that people also place value in the trustworthiness of a provider. ‘Price’ will always come out on top when surveying consumers on reasons for choosing a product or service, and indeed it did in this survey as 35 per cent chose a provider due to price. However, beyond this, 31 per cent said they have considered choosing a new financial services product because they thought the provider was trustworthy (21 per cent have actually chosen one for this reason, 11 per cent have considered switching providers, and six per cent have gone on to switch as a result). 

31 per cent said they have considered choosing a new financial services product because they thought the provider was trustworthy

With this in mind, there’s a clear disparity between regions, with trustworthiness being important to those in the South East (26 per cent) and Wales (24 per cent) and less important to those in the East Midlands (only 15 per cent).

Trustworthiness is a very important ‘human’ trait, highlighting the need for financial services businesses to ensure they are coming across as such in their visual communication.

Rebecca Swift, Senior Director of Creative Insights, Getty Images said:  “Images and video can provide the opportunity for brands to humanise themselves and Getty Images’ search and download data reflects that financial services brands are looking for ways to regain that human touch. Visuals play a vital role in brand identity and make a lasting impression on consumers. For brands looking to stand out beyond price point, the adoption of a strategic visual communication strategy is paramount.”

Alongside the importance of humanisation and trust, the research also highlights the extensive influence that online comparison sights and money advices sites are having on consumer decisions. It shows that ‘recommendations from friends and family’ is no longer the single most important factor in financial services decisions:

  • 35 per cent said personal recommendations help them make a decision on which financial services provider to use
  • But 35 per cent said online comparison (such as Compare the Market, Money Supermarket)
  • And 33 per cent said money advice sites (such as Which?, Money Saving Expert)
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