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Britons Reject financial rewards in favour of good customer relations from banks

24/7 Access to Money Most Important Part of Customer Service

Britons place more importance on the quality of the customer service they get from their bank than on interest rates or charges, a report published today (Wednesday) reveals.

A study of 1,000 UK adults revealed that two-thirds (64%) rated high quality customer service ahead of direct financial benefits of good interest rates on their money or low charges (36%).

Round-the-clock access to their money was the most important aspect of customer service, followed by efficiently dealing with basic tasks, and responding speedily to questions.

The greater interest in customer service and its rising importance is highlighted by the fact only 44% of the survey felt that the customer service levels offered by banks were the same.

The findings were uncovered by the Future Foundation think-tank and mobile banking firm Monitise in a report, ‘Banks, Service and Technology’, into technology and the changing nature of customer service.

Barry Clark, report author, said: "People’s lives are now so busy that they are struggling to find the time to control their finances, so are looking for new ways to do so and at any time of day.

"This means that customer service is increasingly regarded as the most important factor by consumers when rating their bank – and is central to keeping or losing customers."

Two-thirds of respondents (64%) want high customer service above financial benefits (36%)

More men than women (38% to 34%) prefer higher rates/lower charges to good service

Over half of 16 to 25-year-olds (52%) wanted the financial benefits over service levels

However once the question was asked of 35-year-olds and older this fell to below 30%

A key factor in the greater importance of customer service has been internet banking, particularly with broadband, and mobile banking which offer people immediate personal control of their money.

Two in three respondents (62%) said all their banking is ‘self-service’ on the internet or mobile phone, up from 51% in 2002.

And half of respondents (50%) cited ‘control’ as a benefit of using technology, up from 15% in 2002.

The mobile banking market has grown over 30% in the past 12 months, with more than one in 20 people in the UK doing so.

It is straightforward to check a balance or move money between accounts on a handset, and users can also set up text alerts to warn about going overdrawn, or that a payment has cleared.

The arrival of Apple’s iPhone, which Monitise supports with a bespoke App, and a new generation of smartphones is making the process even easier.

Mr Clark also discovered that many people actively prefer to use the internet or a mobile to do their banking because they have immediate control and avoid any human interaction, particularly with call centres.

Alastair Lukies, chief executive of Monitise, said: "At a time when consumers are being encouraged to switch their allegiances from provider to provider there is no doubt that the quality of consumer service can be the decisive factor in customer retention and attraction.

"Technology, and the mobile phone, clearly has a huge role to play in delivering the service levels and flexibility which people are demanding. And the arrival of slicker software and a greater range of services from banks mean consumers will increasingly notice the benefits of mobile banking."

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