The word “unprecedented” is being bandied about in regards to the tumult of the last few years. If one thing is for certain — as a result of events including a global viral pandemic, the exit of the UK from the European Union, a swing in political feel and a cost of living crisis – it’s that very few of the public feel as though they’re financially better off. A new study by consumer review giant Feefo has analysed over 5,000,000 consumer reviews posted online over a two year period, examining the public’s perception of financial services brands. The findings are very interesting for those in the industry.
The results of the enormous analysis throw up some fascinating insight into consumer perception, which can help foster business development focus and highlight areas for improvement for financial services brands. Spanning eight themes, there are some clear directives for such companies to heed – and with a sample size of 5,000,000, it’s certainly the most comprehensive intelligence many will receive for years to come.
Regarding Issue Resolution, a sentiment score of 85/100 was maintained with the biggest concerns being complicated form filling and problems with auto-renewals of policies. This score seems somewhat high compared to Pricing, which hit 80/100. The issues raised in this area were particularly telling: consumers don’t like having to phone a company to get a better deal (they would rather work online or simply be offered it from the start of their interaction), do not agree with cancellation fees and do not understand automatically increasing fees. This reinforces findings from previous similar studies that reflect a shift in consumer behaviour, favouring online interactions with brands over telephone conversations.
The reviews surveyed highlight further insights into preferred communication methods. As a standalone business feature “good communication” appears to be of little importance (reflected through just 3% of consumers). However, in conjunction with pricing and rates, it jumps vastly to 38% — proving that consumer understanding around fees can be built with open, honest messaging. Numerous reviews also mentioned comparison websites that are now becoming the status quo for financial services brands’ products when it is time to annually renew. The ease for customers to switch their policies and products to a competitor’s, means that their loyalty is not just difficult to maintain but also held with greater value. The ball very much in the consumer’s court; there is an expectation of the businesses needing to work for them to keep it. This indicates a need for firms to focus on retention rather than acquisition — not least because it’s cheaper.
Consumer trust in businesses will continue to be dented as the cost of living rises through 2022 and not being equally reflected in salaries. The year is definitely set to be a challenge for financial services firms as a result, but there is plenty that can be done from this valuable insight.