Comscore/ForeSee State Of Online Banking 2010

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I always look forward to seeing Comscore’s State of Online Banking report and ForeSee Results’ annual Online Financial Services study, both of which were released this week. Lots of good stats this year, here’s what caught my eye:

Decline in debit as preferred payment type. No surprise that credit was down. But according to Comscore, the percentage of respondents who said that debit was their preferred payment was down four points, while cash increased a couple of points.  I’d love to see the generation breakdown of this. I know boomers and seniors aren’t big debit users, but Xers and Yers are. Can’t imagine them increasingly using cash in lieu of debit — unless they’ve been overdrawing on their accounts, and getting more disciplined about their spending habits.

Big bank dissatisfaction may be overstated. ForeSee found that satisfied customers total 80% at the Top 5 banks, 82% at the 6th to 10h ranked banks as well as at community banks, and 84% at credit unions. For all the noise that credit unions (and the #MoveYourMoney folks) make about the big bad banks and consumers’ mistrust of them, the differences that ForeSee found is absolutely nothing for credit unions to write home about.

Wells Fargo’s satisfaction number is up. It’s not unusual to see satisfaction numbers decline at a bank going through a merger. Customers of the acquired bank are almost always less satisfied with their new bank than their old one. I think that help explains the decline in satisfaction that Comscore reports at Chase/WaMu and PNC/Nat City. But Wells Fargo, which is in the process of integrating Wachovia, saw an increase in customer satisfaction of a few percentage points. Two possible explanations: 1) Last year’s number really sucked, or 2) They’re doing a good job with the merger. I think it’s the latter.

Online banking satisfaction is higher than e-retail satisfaction. Forbes recently picked up on a competing analyst firm’s report that “the websites of the six largest U.S. banks all failed a recent user-friendliness test.” Forbes concluded that banks “haven’t figured out the nuts and bolts of a simple website.” How about we put this in some perspective? According to ForeSee, satisfaction with online banking scored an 81 (1oo point scale, not sure if that represents percent or some calculated score). The top 100 e-retailers however, received a lower score at 78. And not that I would expect good scores from the government or non-profit sectors, but their satisfaction scores were even lower. The point: Banks ain’t doing so bad when put into some context.

Customer contact preferences. According to the ForeSee report, “only 2% of online bankers prefer that their bank not reach out to them. The vast majority (65%) prefer emails.” I can see the email marketing vendors jumping all over this number. But I think ForeSee is taking some undue liberties here. The question they posed to respondents was “What is your preferred way of receiving communications from your bank about your account?” To my mind, that does not encompass marketing communications. And in that light, it makes me wonder why there are even 2% of customers that wouldn’t want their bank to communicate with them about their account.

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