• April 21, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Online Banking Customers' Top Web Site Choices

Banks whose Web sites are easy to navigate, provide quick and accurate responses, and have solid uptime and reliability are keeping and profiting from customers, according to Keynote System's "Keynote Customer Experience and Service Level Rankings." The series of three studies measures the financial service sector's online customer Web sites. The studies are: "Keynote Customer Experience Rankings," which examines consumers' online experience using 250 metrics including satisfaction levels, brand appeal, and customer acquisition success; the "Keynote Service Level Rankings," examining the technical performance of banking sites including overall site responsiveness and reliability; and the "Keynote WebExcellence Scorecard," which measures and ranks bank Web sites' use and execution measured against 290 industry best practices. Keynote Systems measured and ranked the Web sites of Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, National City, PNC Bank, SunTrust, US Bank, Wachovia, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo for the studies. Wachovia topped the customer experience rankings, besting the competition based on the ease with which prospective customers could explore its online banking functions, as well as strong satisfaction with its customer support. Wachovia's Web site was also viewed as the most helpful online banking site. Its success in appealing to prospective customers translated into a significant brand boost for the company, according to the study. Nearly all banks gain a brand boost (35 percent is the average) after prospective customers experience their Web sites. However, Wachovia experienced a brand boost nearly two times greater. This positive online experience also made Wachovia the most successful bank in terms of online customer acquisition. "It shows a strong correlation between a positive online experience and increases in brand equity and customer acquisition and retention," says Lance Jones, manager of Internet research at Keynote Systems. Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, and Bank of America, all topped the Web excellence scorecard, as measured in five categories: ease of use, online banking functionality, privacy and security, quality and availability, and transaction and service. The Web excellence study found that Chase's recent overhaul of its Web site was money well spent, as the bank jumped from sixth to first place in its overall score from last year. Chase also rose to second place in the ease of use category and took top honors for the transaction and service category. Citibank ranked second overall based on its first place ranking in the online banking functionality and privacy and security categories. Bank of America and Wells Fargo tied for third position, with both banks performing well in terms of breadth of functionality and in privacy and security. "Many of the larger banks in the industry had a strong finish in this category," Jones says. "That said, this finish is based not on market or brand positioning, but rather on the investment and focus these companies have put into building the industry's best online banking sites." The "Keynote Service Level Rankings" examined the IT health and technical performance of bank's Web sites. National City, Citibank, and Wells Fargo had the industry's best reliability, indicating those sites were highly available with little or no downtime. Wachovia, Chase, and National City were the best in terms of site responsiveness, an indication of how fast the sites were in downloading pages and executing transactions. The study shows that in general, the banking industry is suffering from reliability issues, with only three of the 10 banking sites studied showing better than 99 percent availability during peak periods, a threshold recommended by Keynote. Almost all errors occurred in the account application areas of the sites, whereas the home page and marketing pages, with their reduced complexity, showed few problems. Several leading bank sites also demonstrated major load handling issues, indicating they cannot support the current traffic needs without significant slowdowns in performance. Related articles: Consumer Trust in FS Sites Weakens
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