Bank Web Sites a Weak Link in Customer Service Chain

Ann All

Despite their significant investments in CRM technologies, banks don't seem to have particularly close relationships with their customers.


According to an IBM survey released late last year, two-thirds of U.S. consumers don't feel valued by their banks. IBM concluded that while banks have largely succeeded in "rational" aspects of customer relationships such as correcting errors and providing multiple banking channels, they haven't fared as well in fostering "emotive" contact.


More recently, Accenture advised British banks to revamp their customer databases so they could provide marketing offers of relevance to their customers -- especially women, who are typically more willing than males to switch banks.


The key, says an Accenture analyst quoted in The Register, is "delivering carefully-crafted products supported by clear, targeted and timely advice utilizing both the Internet and well-informed advisers."


Oops. According to a recent survey by customer service software provider Transversal, most banks were able to provide answers for only about half of routine customer questions online -- mostly through static FAQ sections. Some 30 percent of bank Web sites struggled to answer more than two out of 10 product or service questions.


Having spent lots of time browsing through bank Web sites at my previous job, I suspect these numbers are true. I had frustrating experiences at many of the sites I visited and would often resort to picking up the phone and calling the banks.


That's what many customers do as well, notes Transversal in a story about the survey. The good news, according to Transversal, is that bank contact centers have "dramatically" improved their response times, answering 60 percent of calls within three minutes. The bad news, of course, is that contact centers would likely get a lot less business if banks adopted a "cohesive online customer interaction strategy."


At least some experts, including Gartner, recommend that banks incorporate so-called Web 2.0 features such as wikis, podcasts and blogs on their Web sites. Gartner also says that banks should consider partnerships with online social networks. It's a strategy already being used by a few strong tech adopters like Wells Fargo, Bank of America and KeyBank.

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