The research identifies that customers endured great dislocation in their lives as the pandemic enforced changes in their behaviour: 89% of banking respondents and 79% of insurance respondents believe their customers remain reluctant to visit physical branches or agencies.

More than three-quarters of decision-makers agree that the disruption from the pandemic has accelerated their digital transformation, with 83% investing to improve digital customer solutions.

However, much of this is built on unproven assumptions and perceptions, not evidence.

Decision-makers misunderstand true customer preferences. There is a significant discrepancy between how decision-makers think customers want to interact and actual customer preferences.

Overall, 75% of respondents think that customers prefer to be engaged via email, automated messaging, or a website rather than via a personal virtualconnection. The reality is very different: Only 38% of customer would preferthese options. The pandemic has forced digital solutions on customers —but adopting them does not mean that they prefer them.

Customers still crave a human interaction — whether digital or in-person. While in-office and in-branch face-to-face interactions have declined due to the pandemic, a large proportion of insurance and banking customers still desire a human element over a purely digital interaction. Thirty-six percent of bank and 41% of insurance customers prefer human interaction, whether over the phone or in digital form, such as online or video chat.

Consequently, banking and insurance firms must balance human and digital services together in coherent customer journeys.

How business decision-makers perceive customers want to interact with them is misaligned with customers’ actual preferences. Three-quarters of respondents at banking and insurance firms believe that customers prefer to be engaged via automated digital methods, but only 38% of customers prefer this digital-only option."

A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Spotlight, February 2021

Find out more by watching the on demand webinar Navigating a new era of digital transformation in banking and insurance

Presented by MONEYLIVE: a panel of banking and insurance experts explore the next phase of digital transformation in a post-pandemic future and discover the critical steps needed to align industry expectations with the human touch. They will discuss key issues facing the financial services industry, including: 

  • From heightened expectations to consumer anxiety: what current trends are likely to stay?
  • The gap between financial service firms’ perception of customer preferences, and what customers actually want.
  • Thriving versus surviving: how are banking and insurance firms shifting their focus from urgency to optimisation?


  • Susannah Street (Moderator)
  • Jacob Morgan, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
  • Sarah Greasley, Chief Technology Officer, Direct Line Insurance
  • Paul Titterton, Head of Personal Distribution, Virgin Money
  • Dan Schwab, Global Offer Lead, Financial Services, Xerox

Click through to download the Forrester research here.

Watch the webinar on demand

Hear more on optimising your customer journeys from these financial and insurance sector experts.