Blue rectangle with text: "Have your banking habits changed in the last 6 months?" over blue rectangle with text: "The MKP team reflects on the 'new normal' of retail banking"

How Have Bank Marketers Changed the Way They Bank During the Pandemic?

By Erin O'Brien, Assistant Project Manager

The COVID-19 pandemic closed down almost every bank’s branch network during the height of the pandemic. Even now, most branch lobbies require appointments upon entry so the highest priority banking can be performed.

As bank marketers, MKP was curious about how consumers were adapting to banking without their local branch. Has branch inaccessibility and the growing fear of public spaces pushed all consumers online or are in-person holdouts waiting for the day to return to a branch?

To learn more about the change in consumer banking habits we surveyed our employees to see how their banking habits have changed over the last six months.

Melissa, a customer of her bank for nearly 20 years, has not visited a branch since the pandemic started and has turned to online banking, bill pay, mobile check deposit, electronic transfers and has even started using Zelle to send money from bank to bank.

Maxwell, a customer of his bank for five years, was already enrolled in online banking and completed most of his banking online pre-pandemic, except for having to withdraw cash now and again. He was fluent in his bank’s online platform and didn’t miss a beat when the entire country went remote. When interest rates began falling Maxwell searched online for new banks that offered better rates. He was able to open a new account and make a seamless transition to his new bank completely online.

Charlie, a 22 year-long customer of his bank, lives a mere one block from his local branch and has not changed his habits one bit since his branch truncated its hours and began closing on Wednesdays and Saturdays due to the pandemic. Since he has been working from home he has been able to navigate his branch’s limited hours.

Erin, a customer of her bank for 12 years, regularly uses her bank’s online banking platform and only visits a branch once a month for a cash withdrawal. But recently her social security number was compromised and required additional security on her checking and savings accounts. Over the phone and through her bank’s customer service chat feature, she was able to quickly and easily put a security hold on all her accounts. Several days later she received an unsolicited customer service call from her bank who just wanted to check in and continue to reassure her that her accounts were safe.

Pam, a customer of her bank for nearly 25 years, was already an avid user of her bank’s mobile and online banking platforms before the pandemic. She seldom visited her branch, and only to withdraw cash, but since the pandemic she has found herself going nearly cashless. For her day-to-day purchases she has utilized the contactless payment options and found little need to go to an ATM.

It is clear that everyone has their preferences and habits when it comes to banking, but, at least from our informal company poll, it seems that the pandemic has pushed many consumers to utilize the digital banking platforms at their fingertips. The last holdouts of in-person banking have become few and far between.

For most, the “new normal” of retail banking involves a browser or a smartphone and the customer banking experience has become completely digital. Banks have made this online transition even easier for customers by increasing the mobile check deposit limit, offering virtual tech support to help customers who are not digitally savvy, and increasing customer service calls to check in on customers. Customers are now realizing that banking online may be even easier than visiting a branch.

MKP communications inc. is a New York City-based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, and flawless execution, exclusively for financial services clients.