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Digital interaction is here to stay!

Kathy Ellison Director 24/09/2020

One of the most significant changes in habits that lockdown has introduced is the wide use of online mass-socialising & digital communication.

With branches not being open & reduced use of cash, many reluctant digital users have been forced online, and are thriving as a result.

And this habit appears set to stay, with major opportunities for financial services companies.

Consumers across the board have opened up to digital, from video gatherings to using financial apps. This shift has been seen in all age groups, even older groups who may have previously been hesitant to use digital methods. Who would have thought 6 months ago our elderly grandparents would be on Zoom and Houseparty?!

Over 7 in 10 (73%) people have used video or online methods to socialise, play games or attend events. Although this is significantly higher among Gen Z (88%) and Millennials (83%), 57% of over 65s are doing it too.

And 9 in 10 (90%) say they will continue after lockdown ends, even 8 in 10 of those over 65. This is an increase of 40% compared to pre-COVID, with 8 in 10 saying they will continue the habit.

With branches not being open and reduced use of cash, many reluctant digital users have been forced online, and are thriving as a result. This is accelerating behaviours that most experts thought would take 2-3 years to bed in.

“It is massive in every single way… I think it has forced people to use digital services that they wouldn’t have had to use before… this is a compelling event and it is pushing people to do things they wouldn’t have done before”  (Ben, 35)

When it comes to guidance or advice, one in three (35%) say they are more comfortable getting financial advice over digital channels such as Zoom or Skype; which rises to half of Gen Z & Millennials. So although face to face advice will remain important in the new world, this lockdown has sped up the opportunity to engage with customers through digital channels– particularly at the younger end.


Digital looks set to stay, even once lockdown eases, and with it opens up a considerable amount of opportunities for financial services providers to interact with customers.

Providers need to accelerate their digital development in 3 areas:

Develop easy to use digital tools and apps to support customers:

  • Remember that some customers are less confident with both finances and digital than others – ensure that tools are open to all by providing additional support, education and reassurance
  • Keep it simple and intuitive – reflect how customers think and feel about their finances

Use different channels to engage with customers:

Zoom, Teams, Houseparty, or other online channels have all become commonplace during lockdown – these all offer providers more opportunities for guidance, support and education – as well as giving financial advisers a new route to their current and potential customers.

Be agile:

Adapt quickly to take advantage of the new consumer confidence with digital – e.g. live chat through an app, the opportunity to video call rather than audio call, wider acceptance of chatbots, offering advice (or guidance) over zoom.

However, there remain a number of barriers to address:

  • Increased vulnerability – there are people who risk being left behind or alienated by digital payments or digital methods of banking
  • Digital accessibility – this isn’t a level playing field so think about how to support customers who don’t have digital tools – be sensitive to their needs and aware that this new digital world must not be the only option
  • Digital confidence – this varies enormously so information, education and guidance is critical to ensure all customers are catered for
  • Security fears – reassurance is critical to build confidence in digital channels – most people have stories about cards being cloned or accounts being hacked so may need convincing
  • The use of cash – though there is a move away from cash, there remains large groups of people in society who are reliant on it, to budget, to plan or even for their income, a digital solution particularly for banking, may not be a solution for them

For more information on our financial services offer please get in touch at [email protected].