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Customer experience on UK banking sites falling behind global counterparts

Customer experience on UK banking sites falling behind global counterparts
Saturday April 16 2011

Research results show that online customer experience is a key driver for online conversion and improved brand perceptions.

Keynote Competitive Research has revealed some of the findings of its recent Global Best Practices Study for Bank Marketing Websites.  The study contains the results, insights and best practices from an international online customer experience study of over 10,000 consumers, using the leading bank websites in 8 countries. UK banking sites monitored in the study were: Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, NatWest, RBS and Santander, and the results were compared to 47 banking sites around the world.

Results from this study indicate that none of the UK banks monitored appeared in the global top ten for overall customer experience with the Co-operative Bank scoring the highest ranking – in 12th place.  Halifax and Nationwide were the next best performers in 16th and 17th place globally.  The Co-Operative Bank’s homepage was also perceived to be the most helpful in the UK, with 63% of participants recognising this trait.  This was closely followed by RBS and HSBC.  Success rates for customers being able to open an account were the highest for the Bank of Scotland, with 82%.  This is compared to the lowest success rate in the UK, with one institution registering only 56%, meaning that almost half of site visitors were not able to open an account online on this site because of customer experience issues.

Banks have a variety of ways to engage existing customers and new-to-bank commercial prospects.  For all customers, the marketing site is critical, as it’s now the main channel of communication with the bank’s target audience.  The Keynote Global Best Practices Study for Bank Marketing Websites focused on correlating intentions, behaviour and outcomes to gain insight into brand impact, and whether site visits would convert to account sign-ups.  Using Keynote’s commercially available WebEffective, an online usability testing tool, the global study revealed that strong similarities emerge as top drivers of brand and acquisition for deposit prospects – site design and organisation was shown to be the strongest driver, which is heavily influenced by homepage appeal.  Participants indicated that the homepage sets expectations for what you can do on the site, and how you should go about doing it.

“Successful bank marketing sites drive high customer acquisition rates and also deliver an excellent impact on brand perceptions,” said Malcolm Otter, Senior Director at Keynote Systems.  “They make the new-to-bank prospects more receptive to engaging with the bank in the future, and ultimately more likely to set up an account.  This research gives site managers a clear understanding of global best practice to help them improve the business outcomes for the site.  The driver analysis helps them prioritise effectively with solid evidence to show where they should be investing in the site to deliver greatest ROI by showing which customer experience levers to pull and which to avoid to drive acquisition and brand perceptions.  Our WebEffective technology, which was used to run the research, tells you not only what users are doing at your Web site, but also why they interacted with your site the way they did.”

“It’s surprising to see the UK banks lagging so far behind financial institutions from other countries – in particular the US, Canada and Australia,” continued Otter.  “It’s essential that banks keep up with best practice online, otherwise they risk losing valuable customers to the competition and could end up investing in areas of the site that ultimately don’t lead to more business.”

Tagged as: banking | online ecommerce | consumers

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