Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Banks 'second rate' at online service

Banks bang on a lot about customer service but with multiple channels to support for communicating with their customers, it appears banks may be neglecting the most powerful channel of all, the internet.

Multi-channel customer service research from eService provider Transversal suggests that while response times at customer call centres have improved dramatically with 60% of calls answered within three minutes, and the shortest wait times being just a few seconds, the banks still have not get their heads around customer service on the internet.

According to Transversal's findings, 30% of bank websites struggled to answer more than two out of 10 product and service questions - only one bank scored top marks. Approximately a third of banks still do not offer the facility to email questions, and of those that did, the average response time was 30 hours - and it gets worse, only three out of 10 banks managed to answer email questions satisfactorily.

Given that banks have invested heavily in a web shopfront window, there appears to be no good reason for the lack of responsiveness to web enquiries other than the fact that banks don't quite get it.

Some banks still appear to be stuck in the mindset that putting information on the internet means you do not have to provide the same or similar levels of customer service that you would provide if someone walked into a branch.

Although 80% of banks surveyed had a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section (up from 50% in 2006) Transversal's findings indicate that many of these were "extremely large" and difficult to navigate to find tailored information. The irony is that despite all the increases in bandwidth and the speed of the internet, customers still found it easier to get a response via the phone than online.

Pushing its own barrow, Transversal said only 30% of banks had implemented natural language eService solutions that use neural network technology to analyse email questions in order to find the best response.

But it is not just about the software becoming more intelligent in order for web sites to more satisfactorily respond to customers emailed questions. Banks need to fully embrace the interactive capabilities of the Internet to encourage more meaningful and fruitful interactions with their customers. Do I hear shrieks of Web 2.0 in the background - quite frankly shouldn't basic levels of online customer service been part of Web 1.0?

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