Consumers Less Satisfied with Online Banking

May 14, 2010

US online consumers are generally less satisfied with bank and credit card institutions today than in 2009 or 2008, according to the comScore annual State of Online Banking Report.

Banks, Credit Card Firms Lose Satisfaction, Brokerages Gain
In 2010, 70% of survey respondents reported being “highly satisfied” with their primary bank, a marginal decrease from 71% last year. Credit card companies also reported a small decline in customer satisfaction scores, from 62% in 2009 to 60% in 2010.

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However, despite the tenuous macroeconomic environment, the US equity markets’ considerable recovery in 2009 has actually driven a net increase in customer satisfaction among brokerage customers. Some 64% of respondents expressed satisfaction with their primary firm in 2010, up six percentage points from 58% in 2009 but still down six percentage points from 70% in 2008.

Checking Customers Increasingly Want Service
When opening a new checking or savings account, free checking continued to reign as the most important attribute with 67% of consumers selecting this feature; followed by low minimum balance (37%), proximity of branches/ATMs (36%) and bill pay (24%).

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While most attributes experienced a marginal decrease in importance versus year ago, quality of customer service surged 18 percentage points to 22% of respondents in 2010 from only 4% in 2009, indicating a fast-emerging point of differentiation among financial institutions.

Online Bill Pay Gains, but Security an Issue
In the past year, online bill pay has experienced substantial growth in consumer adoption, with 64% of survey respondents reporting they use online bill pay, up 19 percentage points from 45% the previous year.

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Automatic/recurring bill pay also witnessed significant growth in the past year, with 52 percent of respondents now enrolled in the service, up 10 points from 42% the previous year. Yet even with attractive promotions and user-friendly online interfaces, 36% of survey respondents do not use online bill pay. Nearly one-third of the respondents cited security concerns as the main reason they do not pay bills online.

“Fear and uncertainty about security are hindering the online banking community from further adoption of tools like automatic bill pay and keeping a significant segment of potential online banking customers offline,” said Marc Trudeau, comScore senior director. “If financial institutions work to alleviate some of these concerns, there is still room to grow the online banking market.”

Other Findings

  • Customer satisfaction with bank websites declined at all of the top five banks, despite significant investments in new applications, tools and bill functionality designed to help customers manage their personal finances.
  • With increasing environmental awareness and financial incentives, 58% of respondents are now enrolled in paperless statements, up 5 points from last year. Of those with paperless accounts, 69% of respondents are enrolled in paperless options for their checking/saving, while paperless penetration rates are much lower for other financial products such as credit cards (47%), insurance (28%) and brokerage (16%).
  • Only 30% of online bankers expressed interest in using online Personal Financial Management (PFM) sites. More importantly, only 10% are aware of specific online PFM sites and less than 4% currently use the tools.

Consumer Perception of Financial Services Improving
Americans are slowly improving their perception of the reputation-battered financial services industry, according to the Harris Interactive 2010 EquiTrend study.

The data in the financial services category shows evidence of recovery in terms of consumer perceptions, according to Harris analysis. The average brand equity scores across all financial services brands are on their way back to 2008 levels, a result of increases in both quality and purchase consideration perceptions.

About the Data: Data is based on a survey of more than 2,500 US internet users and behavioral data from comScore’s 1 million-person online consumer panel.

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