ComScore, in a new report, found an upward trend in customer satisfaction with financial institutions and their banking Web sites early in 2011, following a decline in previous years.
"Online and mobile banking grew solidly in 2011 as perceptions of the economy improved early in the year and financial institutions invested in further developing their digital channels. Use of online banking climbed steadily, showing improvements in customer satisfaction across the board, while mobile banking gained adoption, particularly among those using apps," said Sarah Lenart, comScore's vice president for financial services, in a statement. "There continue to be areas of opportunity for increasing customer engagement across both fixed Internet and mobile platforms. Financial institutions who want to ensure they are meeting their customers' needs must continue to expand and refine their digital marketing strategies in 2012 to increase customer penetration and engagement."
Key findings highlighted in the report include the following:
- Customer satisfaction for financial institutions and banking Web sites displayed positive growth from 2010: After experiencing some declines in recent years, customer satisfaction with financial institutions and banking Web sites rebounded in early 2011. Satisfaction scores for three of the top five online banks dipped in 2010 but saw an even larger increase in early 2011, bringing them back above 2009 levels. Web site satisfaction scores saw a similar upward trend, with nearly 70 percent of customers satisfied with their financial institution's Web site.
- Despite moderate levels of customer interest, key online customer service features remain underutilized: A moderate percentage of consumers expressed an interest in various online customer services, such as personal financial management, and security-based services, such as identity theft services. However, adoption of such services was less than half the rate of awareness in many cases, with the exception of account activity alerts, indicating an area of improvement for banks with the potential to provide further incremental value and customer satisfaction.
- Nearly two-thirds of online financial customers now use bill pay across bank, credit card, and third-party Web sites: Online bill pay penetration continued to grow in early 2011, with nearly 66 percent of customers reporting having used the service. While banks attracted the highest percentage of bill pay use, many of those who used their bank for bill pay also used credit card sites, third-party sites, or both. Twenty-nine percent of bill payers used all three categories of bill pay providers. Despite continued growth in online bill pay use, security remains a key concern for those not engaging in this service.
- Financial institutions are going social, but have yet to achieve critical mass through social media: With social networking's emergence as a vital part of the online user experience, financial institutions have increasingly embraced social networks and are continuing to explore ways of leveraging this platform. In early 2011, financial customer visitation to leading social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn showed 31 percent year-over-year growth compared to just 8 percent from the total online population, indicating a highly engaged audience among financial customers using these platforms. However, only 18 percent of financial customers on social networking sites were aware of their banks' presence on these channels, suggesting a need for banks to build greater awareness of their use of social networking to maximize the engagement capabilities of the platform.
- Mobile banking gains adoption and shows promise for further growth in 2012: In Q2 2011, 16 percent of U.S. mobile users reported using their mobile devices to access financial information, fueled by smartphone adoption and the continued influx and enhancement of mobile banking apps. Nearly three-quarters of mobile bankers indicated interacting with banks on their mobile devices at least once per week, mirroring engagement frequencies seen for online banking use via a desktop or laptop computer. As consumers increasingly incorporate the use of mobile devices in their everyday activities and banks invest further in their mobile channels, mobile banking promises to grow in use in 2012.
"As people turn to online and mobile channels to manage their financial accounts at an ever-increasing rate, it becomes more important for financial institutions to understand their customers' unique online needs and provide a secure and user-friendly experience for accessing financial information and conducting financial transactions. As the Internet and mobile devices continue to become an integral part of people's daily lives, digital banking channels promise further adoption and advancement in 2012," Lenart said.