Study Proves Smooth Online Banking Experiences Are Vital

Keeping online banking customers happy is the key to cross-selling, referrals and future growth

Highly satisfied online banking customers reported by a wide margin that they are more likely to purchase more services, open more accounts, use the website as a primary channel, and recommend the bank to others. Those are among the key findings in ForeSee Results 2011 Online Banking Study, an annual research project measuring the strengths and weaknesses of online banking experiences at a range of banks and credit unions.

The study examined how satisfied online banking consumers are today, and how satisfaction leads impacts desired future behaviors and attitudes, such as purchase of more services, continued use of services, word-of-mouth referrals and general feelings about the financial institution. The good news for financial institutions is that overall customer satisfaction with online banking has rebounded, after falling during the depths of the financial crisis.

When asked which channel customers were most satisfied with, the online channel was the clear winner. 55% selected the online as the channel that satisfied them the most, while 28% chose the branch, 13% chose the ATM, and only 2% chose call center and mobile banking as the channel that satisfied them most.

The study clustered financial institutions by similar sizes and types. Banks in the first group included BofA, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi and PNC. The second group included US Bank, TD, Suntrust, BB&T and Regions. The study also looked at groups of both community banks and credit unions. One big surprise is that for the first time, large banks have edged out credit unions for the most satisfying online experience.

The report’s main message is that a satisfied online customer is a valuable, profitable customer. The research showed that a highly satisfied online banking customer is:

  • 41% more likely to continue utilizing online banking services
  • 52% more likely to continue to use the website instead of other, costlier channels (branches, call centers)
  • 50% more likely to purchase additional services
  • 63% more likely to recommend the bank
  • 63% more likely to trust their banking institution overall
  • 56% more satisfied with their bank overall, regardless of channel

ForeSee’s online banking customer experience model measures the following elements of satisfaction:

  • Website Value – Convenience, simplicity, and usefulness of the online channel when compared to going into a branch.
  • Bank Products/Service – Selection of financial products and services as well as the information that is available about them.
  • Look-and-Feel – Visual appeal, balance of graphics and text, and the readability of pages.
  • Navigation – Clarity of options available for navigating, intuitiveness of site layout and how easily customers find what they’re looking for with an acceptable number of clicks.
  • Privacy – Customer perceptions of privacy, including their ability to limit what personal informa- tion is shared, and whether they feel the bank is committed to protecting personal information.
  • Site Performance – How quickly pages load, the consistency of speed, and the ability to load pages without getting error messages.
  • Transactions – The process for completing tasks, impression of level of security in completing tasks, verification of task completion.

“The bottom line is this,” says ForeSee Results. “These areas will present the greatest return on investment for many banks in these categories, though each individual bank should measure its own customers in order to get the best data.”

“Banks that continuously monitor their customer website experience and improve its usability will reap rewards in terms of loyalty, share of wallet, share of mind, and recommendations,” the firm adds.

“High online customer satisfaction is more than a ‘nice-to-have,’ as there are clear and quantifiable benefits from improving satisfaction among online customers.”

More data resulting from this study will be forthcoming, including data on mobile banking and the influence of social media. Subscribe to Larry Freed’s blog, for data and analysis related to the U.S. 2011 ForeSee Results Online Banking Study. A UK edition of this research will be released May 25 at

About ForeSee and the Study

ForeSee Results captures and analyzes voice-of-customer data to help organizations increase loyalty, recommendations and marketing value. ForeSee Results identifies improvements across all channels and touch points affecting customer satisfaction, based on the responses of over 60 million survey collected to date.

Conducted in April 2011, the ForeSee Results 2011 Online Banking Study encompassed nearly 3,000 participants. All respondents were screened to ensure that they actually used online services at their bank or credit union.

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