Customers are being short changed by high street banks replacing counter staff with machines according to a new poll, which reveals that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of people want the human touch, not just a machine in their local bank branch.
Following a night of IT and bank machine failures for customers of Lloyds Banking Group it is clear that systems failures across the industry are a chronic problem.
The Survation poll of consumers for Britain’s largest union, Unite, points to a backlash against the march of the machines in bank branches across the UK, with two thirds (62 per cent) saying they want more staff in branches and 72 per cent reporting they had found bank machines they wanted to use out of order. 1 in 5 said that they were unsure of how to use a branch machine.
Significantly 9 per cent of respondents (which equates to 4.5 million adults) have experienced fraud due to hacking or tampering with machines.
Warning of the cost to customer service, the union called on the banking industry to step back from the reckless rush to install banking machines across all their branches at the continued expense of employment and training of a much valued workforce.
Dominic Hook, Unite national officer said: “The speed that UK banks are moving towards increased automation across their branches is incredibly significant for all bank customers. The poll shows the significant reputational damage the banks will suffer if they ignore the needs of their customers. With 72 per cent stating they have had problems with machines in branches and 62 per cent preferring more staff in branches, there is no doubt about the importance of front line bank staff.
“The irresponsible drive to cut staff and save money by installing machines across high street branches will have serious consequences for the banks. The banks need to strike a careful balance between the high quality customer service provided by front-line staff and the banking functions machines can perform.
“This evidence that customers want well-staffed branches and would prefer to deal with the highly trained and professional staff that currently service their branches should set off alarm bells for the industry. Their customers don’t want to see empty soulless branches.
“There are serious questions as to what this reduction in staff numbers will do to customer service across the banking industry. It is now time for the industry to rethink its automation plans and give consumers the better basic banking they clearly desire.”
Unite is challenging the banks on their assertion that customers prefer to bank using machines instead of the dedicated staff currently working in high street branches across the country.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Survation Ltd. Total sample size was 1,005 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken on 2nd January 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
For further information contact Saba Edwards, Unite senior communications officer on: 07768 693 953
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.