Banks should not pull branches yet, study finds

05 July 2007
The majority of customers still prefer their bank to give them the option of visiting a high street branch, research from consultants Deloitte has revealed, despite the fact that over a third of banking customers now manage their finances online.

Six in ten people said they would not choose a financial service provider which did not allow them to see a customer service representative in person.

Relying exclusively on online or phone communications with their bank would make most customers nervous, with just 17 per cent of people saying they would be happy with a bank which closed down all branches, even in exchange for improved interest rates and cheaper service.

Customer relationships will continue to be built by direct contacts, the report's authors argue.

Meeting face to face is particularly important for establishing initial rapport, the survey showed, with 55 per cent of people agreeing they would not open an account or begin a mortgage without first visiting a branch.

Retaining a "variety of distribution channels" which allow customers to "choose the services that suit them best" is the best way of building loyalty, suggested Britannia building society's chief executive Neville Richardson.

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