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Financial services mobile experiences lag traditional Web in customer satisfaction: study

Financial institutions are not providing compelling  mobile experiences, with customers preferring traditional Web sites to mobile apps or optimized sites, according to new research from ForeSee.

ForeSee reviewed customer experiences for mobile apps and Web sites for 17 major financial services companies and found that credit units, measured in aggregate, were the only ones to score 80 or higher on the Mobile Satisfaction Index. With continued growth in smartphone penetration and the use of mobile devices for financial services, the reports points to the need for financial services organizations to pay closer attention to the mobile customer experience.

“The big news for financial services companies is that the customer experience they’re providing on mobile phones and tablets really matters,” said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile at ForeSee, Ann Arbor, MI.

“This study found that a highly satisfied user of a mobile site or app reports being 76 percent more likely to recommend the mobile site or app, 66 percent more likely to use it again, and 72 percent more likely to prefer the brand overall based on the experience he or she had in the mobile channel,” he said.

“Those kind of numbers translate to real bottom-line results for financial institutions. They’d be crazy not to start measuring and improving the mobile customer experience.”

Opportunity to differentiate
In aggregate, financial services companies score 77 out of 100 on the customer satisfaction index.

By category, banks and credit unions have an aggregate score of 78. The leaders in the category are credit unions, with a score of 80, American Express with a score of 79 and Wells Fargo, which also scores 79.

In the credit card category, the aggregate score is 76. American Express and Discover lead the category with scores of 79 each.
The brokerage category has an aggregate score of 77. Charles Schwab is the leader with a score of 79.

The fact that the scores are all close to one another indicates that there is little differentiation in the customer experiences being offered by these companies. This suggests there is an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves on mobile customer experience.

“The most surprising finding was how tightly-grouped the scores are,” Mr. Feinberg said. “What this tells me is that none of these companies are using mobile to differentiate . . . yet.

“There’s really only about a three-point spread in any given category, and if one company in each category can really figure out what customers want and need in mobile, they will be able to translate that into success,” he said.

Apps trump mobile Web
The research also shows that apps provide a superior experience to mobile Web sites.

However, traditional Web sites still provide the best customer experience for financial services companies. The Web experience for financial services companies outperforms the mobile experience in terms of customer satisfaction by as much as eight points.

Another key finding is that a lot of mobile users are using these devices at home, meaning they may have higher expectations of the information available on mobile apps and Web sites designed for on-the-go users.

“Financial services companies need to be much more customer-centric when it comes to mobile,” Mr. Feinberg said.

“Lots of financial services companies are now scientifically measuring satisfaction with their websites and call centers because they know that satisfaction is a proven predictor of future financial results,” he said. “I’m not sure that same understanding has sunk in at the mobile level.

“Because business is not being closed as often on mobile as it is on other channels, it is regarded as a less valuable channel. But the truth is that a good or bad mobile experience can either support and bolster a brand or undermine it.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York