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Press release
Financial Services|Technology|United States|English

One-third of Canadians willing to forego human interaction with banks for lower fees – GfK research

Toronto, 06.12.2017

High consumer expectations show big potential to personalize interaction using chatbots, other AI applications

As bank earnings and fees continue to soar, a new GfK study shows one-third of Canadian consumers (33%) would be willing to give up human interaction with their banks if it meant paying fewer fees.
The GfK study, which examined the state of consumer-bank relationships in Canada, also found Canadians feel their bank is not doing enough to help them reduce their fees. It found there was a 61-point gap between what consumers expected and what their bank is actually doing to point out ways to help them avoid penalties and fees.

Despite the push by banks for strong digital touchpoints, over half of Canadian consumers (52%) say they prefer to call someone to resolve a problem with their bank. However, if it means lower fees, 33% say they are willing to forego personal contact with their bank. A small group (14%) of consumers say they trust the advice they get from a bank algorithm more than that from a human.

As banks try to reduce their costs and human interaction with customers through artificial intelligence (AI) applications like chatbots – which can handle basic customer service interactions online or by phone are becoming more the norm.

This is happening at a time when the research shows wide gaps between what consumers hope to receive from their banks - in terms of service and financial advice – and what they actually get. The gaps ranged from 20 to 61 percentage points between consumer desire and satisfaction around key bank benefits, including:

  • Ways to avoid penalties and fees:  61-point gap
  • Do more to protect consumers: 39-point gap
  • Offer tips to improve finances: 35-point gap
  • Suggest beneficial services in real time: 32-point gap
  • Identify changes in spending patterns: 33-point gap
  • Provide third-party offers based on behavior and location: 20-point gap

See chart below for more information

Over half (56%) of Canadian consumers say they have never interacted with a chatbot and are not interested in doing so. In fact, over one-third (35%) of consumers value human customer service so much that they would be willing to pay more bank fees to deal with a live person. Another 29% said they have not interacted with a chatbot, but are interested in trying one; 9% say they have had a bad experience with a chatbot; and 7% report having a good experience with one.

“Banks are leaving opportunities to engage and satisfy customers on the table,” said Angelo Pierro, Global Industry Lead of GfK’s Financial Services practice and Country Manager for Canada. “Our research shows banks need to address customer expectations, especially with how they can avoid penalties and fees. They need to find ways to identify the moments when person-to-person service really matters to customers, and refine the chatbot experience for other occasions.”

GfK’s study was conducted in (Sept 2017) among 1,008 members (ages 18 and above) using an online panel