Digital banking experiences are not satisfying clients

Research by J.D. Power finds a lack of personalization and financial stress is leading to malaise among customers.

Canadian financial institutions are missing the mark when it comes to their websites and mobile apps, according to new research.

The results came from four separate surveys J.D. Power conducted to evaluate the satisfaction consumers had with the online and mobile app experiences from their banks and credit cards. Altogether, the surveys polled 8,267 retail bank and credit card customers in Canada from February to April.

Overall satisfaction was up by two points for bank websites, but were down in every other category, including by eight points for credit card apps.

“Customer expectations for a truly standout digital experience have grown considerably during the past few years and Canadian banks and credit card issuers are not keeping pace,” said Jennifer White, senior consultant for banking and payment intelligence at J.D. Power. “With the exception of a few outliers, most bank and credit card mobile apps and websites that J.D. Power evaluated have lost ground year-over-year. It is evident that malaise is being driven not only by increased customer demand for support, but also by financial stress and a lack of personalization.”

J.D. Power’s survey found that, among bank customers who visit their bank’s branch, 65% say they have a personal relationship with that bank. But for those that primarily use their bank’s digital channels, that percentage falls to 50%. The firms says this is a sign that digital solutions are not offering the kind of personalized experiences that gives consumers the services or information they need, as they would get in a branch.

Another finding that backs this up: spending analysis and budgeting tools, which gives customers some of that personalized and helpful information, raise satisfaction across categories. However, adoption remains low, with 22% to 32% customers using them, depending on the category.

Those kinds of insights are especially important to customers these days, as just half of those polled by J.D. Power consider themselves “financially healthy,” with 29% saying they are “financially vulnerable” and 11% saying they are “overextended.” Satisfaction among banking customers in Canada is 87 points lower, on average, among financially vulnerable customers than among financially healthy customers.

RBC had the top-ranked mobile app, though its score of 828 was down from last year’s 836 – a trend, White pointed out, was seen across many providers and platforms. TD ranked second, with Scotiabank in third. CIBC, which had the highest ranked mobile app last year, dropped to fourth, with its score of 808 dropping below the industry average of 819.

CIBC did, however, have the top ranked online experience, raising its score by six points from last year. It was followed by Scotiabank and RBC. CIBC also had the top-ranked online experience for credit cards, followed by Tangerine and RBC.

Tangerine had the highest-ranked credit card app, followed by RBC and Scotiabank.