Survey: In the age of the internet, people still need bank’s customer service points
Almost every second resident of Lithuania visits a bank’s customer service point at least once a year to obtain financial advice, pay for services or change a bank card. The majority of the population believes that with the decrease in the number of bank’s customer service points, the most inconvenience is caused to the elderly and those living in remote and small towns.
According to the Bank of Lithuania, the number of units of credit institutions in Lithuania is rapidly decreasing. While in 2011 the number of branches exceeded 900, in the first half of this year there were slightly more than 450. Market research company Spinter Tyrimai conducted a public opinion survey to find out how the downward trend in the network of bank units is perceived by the Lithuanian population.
The results of the survey showed that 41 per cent of the population annually visits the bank’s unit. 27 per cent of them visit it up to 2 times a year, 11 per cent - 3-6 times a year, and 3 per cent - once a month or more. The remaining part visits the bank’s unit less than once a year, while only 12 per cent of the respondents do not visit the bank’s unit completely.
“In recent years, banks in the country have been reducing the number of units and fostering residents to use e-channels. But the results of the survey showed that people need bank units for various purposes - from cash transactions to consulting. Financial services are often complex and require specific knowledge, so it is natural that residents feel the need to consult a banker”, said Vytautas Sinius, Chief Executive Officer of Šiaulių Bankas.
According to V. Sinius, on-line banking has become the predominant channel for management of finances on the day-to-day basis, but the importance of bank units will further remain significant. The number of cash transactions in physical units will decrease over time, however, a significant part of the population is not yet ready to use e-channels and prefer cash. However, there is a growing trend for a bank unit to become a financial advisory centre, not only for retail clients but also for business - especially small and medium-sized businesses - looking for financing solutions.
The results of the survey showed that almost half (44%) of the surveyed population were directly affected by the problem of shrinking bank units and changed their behaviour. 25% of them were forced to travel to a further branch of the bank, while 17% started using e-banking.
Asked to comment on the consequences of the decline in the number of bank units, most residents highlighted the reduced availability of financial services for the elderly and those without information technology skills.
In addition, a significant proportion of respondents noted the importance of human contact with a bank consultant - financial services are often complex and it is important for individuals to consult the banker in person and receive valuable advice.
The third most important argument was the accessibility of banking services to the population in the regions. The number of bank branches in smaller municipalities has decreased - in some districts there are 1-2 bank units and in some areas, there are no banks at all, so local residents have to move to another city to handle their financial issues.
Spinter Tyrimai conducted a public opinion survey in September this year when more than a thousand Lithuanian residents aged 18 to 75 were surveyed.