• Majority of Germans want more support from their bank at times of financial difficulty

  • Study shows banking customer expectations and potential for optimization

  • 37% of respondents expect their financial situation to worsen in the next 12 months

71% of Germans expect their banks to provide more help at times of financial difficulty. This is one of the findings of the "Banking on Banks" study conducted by CRIF.

The study surveyed 1,000 German consumers in July 2022 to investigate how the increased cost of living will affect demand for financial services in the coming twelve months. The study shows which areas offer banks the potential to strengthen customer loyalty and customer satisfaction in times of financial pressure.

New challenges for consumers

The pandemic, inflation, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have all led to significantly increased financial burdens for German consumers this year. As a result, 37% of those Germans surveyed expect their financial situation to worsen over the next twelve months. "Many German consumers are facing challenges in the coming twelve months that they have not experienced before. To cope with them, they are looking for guidance and support," commented Dr. Frank Schlein, Managing Director of CRIF Germany. "Our survey shows that many bank customers appreciate their banks offering individual support tailored to their particular situation. This presents an opportunity for banks." For example, 41% of the study participants stated that banks should tailor their products and services more to the needs of individual customers given the current situation.

Multiple approaches for greater customer satisfaction

The results of the study highlight a number of areas that banks can address to better tailor their offerings to demand and improve customer satisfaction. For example, one in three Germans (36%) believe that banks should reach out more to their customers in view of the current situation to help them save money on services such as insurance. When it comes to savings, 36% of those surveyed would also like more support from their bank at the moment. 

For Dr. Schlein, digitalization is one way of exploiting the potential uncovered across different application areas: "Among 18- to 34-year-olds in particular, there is a strong desire for greater process digitalization: around one in three (32%) would like to see support provided digitally. In addition, however, digital solutions can also be used to address many issues that were mentioned by all of the age groups surveyed. For example, additional help in improving their credit rating (26%), financial planning support (24%) or earlier warning of financial issues (24%). There are now suitable digital tools for all these areas of application."

Digital solutions for a needs-based offering

There is no lack of willingness to share personal data: many German consumers consider it acceptable to share additional personal data - provided it makes it easier for them to take out a loan, for example (30%), or helps increase their credit limit (25%). Under these conditions, the readiness to share information is even more pronounced among 18- to 34-year-olds. In this age group, just under 40% would share more personal data. "Personal information is a sensitive asset that must be managed responsibly, in compliance with data protection regulations and in a customer-oriented manner," commented Dr. Schlein. "To build trust, banks need to prove to their customers that they get something out of sharing their data."

Customers are particularly willing to hand over their data when it is used to warn them of financial problems (43%) or when it helps them reduce their monthly expenditure (42%). "Innovations in data management, analytics and digital services hold great potential for customer engagement," Schlein added. "In this way, banks can tailor their offerings to individual customers, helping them with the challenges of inflation and thereby boosting trust."

Banks must adapt to new consumer situation

The expectations of German consumers show that this issue will become relevant for all banks in the coming months: according to the CRIF study, one in three (33%) fear that their standard of living will fall in the coming year. One in four (26%) anticipate difficulties in paying bills or servicing loans. To prevent this, 65% of Germans are looking for a way to reduce spending on food, energy and other essentials over the next twelve months. One in three (35%) believe it is likely that they will have to take on extra income to meet the increased costs.

According to the survey, banks are nevertheless perceived as a source of stability in the event of a financial emergency. After family, banks are the second most popular point of contact for survey participants when it comes to dealing with personal financial problems. Of the Germans who expect to need to take out new debt (15%), 27% would turn to their bank to apply for a loan. However, people often ask their family first (33%) or rely on state support (26%). Here, too, it is clear that if banks succeed in improving their services, they can exploit opportunities and tap potential.

For the CRIF "Banking on Banks" study, a total of 7,000 participants from six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United Kingdom) were surveyed from July 8 to 25, 2022. A weighted, representative sample of 1,000 adult Germans was evaluated for the statements on consumer behavior in Germany. The study reveals both the relationship of European consumers to their banks during the upcoming financially difficult period and their expectations regarding their financial situation.

The study is available in full in English on request by writing to presse.de@crif.com.