APPENZELL: There is widespread disillusionment among bank clientele in the US and Western Europe with few people feeling they are truly valued as customers, new research has found.

A survey for GMC Software Technology, a Swiss customer communication management business, polled 4,032 consumers across France, Germany, the UK and the US asking about their experience with their banks and found that 48% felt undervalued as customers.

The situation was worst in France where just 6% of respondents believed their bank really valued them as a customer. Things were not much better in the UK (10%), while figures of 20% in Germany and 27% in the US left plenty of room for improvement.

There was common ground on the ways in which this could be achieved. The top three points for each country were friendly and knowledgeable staff (US 60%, France 50%, Germany 45%, UK 45%), enabling customers to bank when and how they want (France 56%, US 45%, UK 49%, Germany 42%), and easy access to the branch (UK 39%, Germany 34%, France 31%, US 49%).

Bill Parker, chief marketing officer, GMC Software Technology, pointed out that the number of ways in which consumers could interact with their banks was increasing, with traditional bricks and mortar giving way to call centres, internet and mobile banking as well as social media.

But the survey showed that 65% of consumers did not believe their online banking delivered an effective level of customer service, while just 29% thought it was truly interactive. Mobile banking fared little better, with only 23% of banking customers finding the service satisfactory.

"It is now time to close the customer experience gap," declared Parker, adding that "there is a time and place for each channel, and banks need to adopt the technologies and strategies that will help them engage effectively with each customer through the optimised channel that each customer chooses".

Almost three quarters of respondents, for example, wanted to be able to request the format in which they received information from their bank (72%) and also at a time that suited them (74%).

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff