Study: Wachovia, National City and Bank of America best at online customer service

Among banking sites, Wachovia made the best impression on online users

Wachovia Corp., National City Corp. and Bank of America Corp. offer their customers the best online service, according to a The Keynote Customer Experience Rankings for Banking Web Sites, one of three new studies examining the online banking industry released yesterday by Keynote Systems Inc.

The study is based on the online experiences of 2,000 prospective customers using 10 major banking Web sites, and it used more than 250 metrics to determine the top sites in terms of the overall customer experience. The study also brand-ranked the sites in more than a dozen categories, including how easy it is to explore online services, open an account and use customer support, Keynote said.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia topped the list, Keynote said.

“Wachovia bested the competition based on the ease with which prospective customers could explore its online banking functions, as well as strong satisfaction with its customer support,” according to the study. “Wachovia was also viewed as the most ‘helpful’ online banking site.”

According to San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote, two-thirds of prospective customers had a strongly positive image of the bank after experiencing the site. Beforehand, just 14% expressed a strong brand preference.

Although prospective customers view most banks positively after experiencing their sites, Wachovia got a brand boost nearly twice the industry average of 35%, Keynote said. The online experience also made Wachovia the most successful bank in terms of online customer acquisition.

Cleveland-based National City placed second in the rankings based on the appeal of its overall site design and organization, as well as the ease with which a new customer can open an account online, according to the study. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, which has placed in the top echelon in all Keynote banking studies, was bolstered by its first-place ranking in ease of opening an account and its top-tier performance in ease of exploring online banking and customer support, Keynote said.

A separate study, the Keynote Service Level Rankings for Banking Web Sites, looked at the technical performance of banking sites, including overall site responsiveness and reliability. National City, Citibank and Wells Fargo & Co. topped the list in terms of reliability, meaning those sites were highly available and experienced little or no downtime, Keynote said. Wachovia, Chase and National City were tops in terms of site responsiveness, an indication of how fast the sites displayed pages and executed transactions, Keynote said.

“In general, the banking industry is experiencing minor reliability issues, with only three of the 10 banking sites studied showing better than 99% availability during the peak periods, a threshold reliability rate recommended by Keynote for most industries,” the study said. “Two major banking sites experienced more than 18 hours of outage time during the four-week evaluation period. Several leading bank sites also demonstrated major load handling issues, indicating that their sites cannot support the current load without significant slowdowns in performance.”

The final study, the Keynote WebExcellence Scorecard, ranked 29 banking sites for online excellence according to their use and execution of more than 290 industry best practices. The sites are ranked for overall excellence and in four online categories, including online banking functionality, ease of use, privacy and security and quality and availability.

Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America offered the best sites in terms of overall online excellence, according to the Keynote WebExcellence Scorecard. Wachovia also ranked high in the Keynote WebExcellence Scorecard.

New York-based Chase recently completed a major overhaul of its site, which helped the site jump from sixth to first place in the overall score compared to the last such study in the third quarter of 2005, Keynote said. Chase also rose to second place in the ease-of-use category and ranked first in the transaction-and-service-tasks category. Citibank ranked second overall, while Bank of America and Wells Fargo tied for third place, with both banks performing well in terms of breadth of functionality and in the privacy and security aspects of their sites, Keynote said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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