For all the sophistication of financial institution web sites, very few allow consumers to interact with agents directly over the web, according to a new report from Meridien Research. The report, which examines the current state of this still-developing technology, predicts slow adoption rates.
The report, Live Web Service Systems, says that even those who understand the internet often need assistance to complete an interaction they start on a financial service institution's web site. When help is not readily available, consumers may abandon their web interactions, and the institution is potentially losing sales. Many consumers resort to using other more expensive service channels to communicate with the financial institution. In either case, the value of the institution's web initiative is significantly reduced. Some degree of live web-based service adds to web self-service facilities and institutions can benefit more from their web initiatives.
"While the potential benefits of immediate service to help web users complete an interaction seem clear, for now most institutions will only experiment with live web service or adopt a wait-and-see approach," said Richard Bell, senior analyst at Meridien.
Meridien's report examines a whole family of related technologies used to provide live agent-attended service to web users, and suggests that a broader deployment of such services within the financial services sector will only begin in 2005 or 2006 - spurred by consumer expectations set by non-financial firms, backed up by a handful of successful financial service web offerings.