Great Expectations – the Asian Retail banking Customer

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The Asian retail banking customer is changing. Increasingly wealthy and connected, customers want even more from their banks and are becoming picky about who they bank with to get it.

This increasingly demanding customer of course has increasingly high-expectations for their bank and the service that they want from their bank. The way they want it also varies from other regions. As an example, statistically, an Asian retail banking customer is more likely to make a deposit in a branch rather than other potentially more convenient channels such as an ATM – definitely something unique for Asia. 

From our research conducted with Chinese bank customers, customers indicated that they felt dissatisfied on a number of different aspects of current banking services including customer manager service, credit card annual fee, lack of online banking service categories, etc..

One of the biggest challenges for consumers in China right now is the lack of trust in banks’ customer managers. In a number of well documented incidents over the past few years, Chinese bank customer managers have exaggerated returns or otherwise misled customers on particular products or services. Customers will of course then be disappointed when they realize the product return is lower than what bank customer manager described, but it can also result in more serious financial losses for the customers themselves if the product fails to meet financial return expectations or even collapses. For credit cards, many banks have failed to provide clear information on fee charging and process. All of this information opacity further widens the expectation gap between customers and banks and makes consumers question if they even really have the right to choose.   

It is time to change the role of retail banking in Asia. Asian banks have to look for a new way to encourage bank employee operating with proper behavior and service innovation to narrow the expectation gap. This needs to come through proper training of staff and a commitment from management to really drive the process forward. It’s only then that we can start to close the critical expectation gap. 

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