Bank web sites fail customer experience test

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 29, 2006

Many banks are failing to take advantage of the opportunity to cement customer relationships by emphasising sales rather than service on their web site home page, according to a recent study by Vox Inc.

The study found that only 20% of the space on banks' home pages was devoted to customer services and features such as account access, tutorials, and searches. Sales-related topics (sales and service offerings) took up an average of 45% of the average bank's home page.

Customers coming second?
The customer experience study reviewed 17 bank web sites, including the top ten US banks (by asset level). By analysing the standards, functionality and overall usability of the home pages, the study noted a serious disconnect in the customer experience between bank priorities and customer needs.

According to analyst Luis Serpa, "Customer experience and engagement is critical to ensuring strong, long-term customer relationships. Online banking is one of the most effective offerings for cementing customer loyalty. It's surprising how many of the major banks don't emphasize their tutorials for online banking and online bill payment."

Key problems identified
The study identified several key problems, including:

  1. Search and online help
    Most bank sites examined do not offer effective search results, and have insufficient or poorly located tutorials or other advanced help features.
  2. Easy access to common tasks
    Online bill payment and ATM/branch locator access is generally poor due to the number of clicks or steps required.
  3. Navigation
    Large banks in particular need to do a better job of developing strong site navigation, Vox warned. As diverse financial product and service offerings increase, excellent navigation becomes essential for a positive customer experience.
  4. Screen display
    Banks are not capitalising on valuable screen space by continuing to design exclusively for the old (and almost obsolete) 800x600 screen resolution.

Bank web sites examined
Vox compared the top 10 US providers and several banking sites from related segments including insurance, financial services and regional banks. The banks analysed included:

  • Allstate Bank
  • Merrill Lynch Bank USA
  • Bank of America, N.A.
  • State Farm Bank, FSB
  • Citibank, N.A.
  • SunTrust Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • U.S. Bank N.A.
  • Harris N.A.
  • Wachovia Bank, N.A.
  • HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • Washington Mutual Bank
  • ING Bank, FSB
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
  • World Savings Bank, FSB
  • LaSalle Bank N.A.

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