Financial institutional spending on Web self-service applications is set to triple by 2004, according to a new report from Meridien Research.
The report, "Web Self-Service: Helping Consumers Help Themselves," estimates the 500 largest US financial services institutions will grow from $33.9 million in 2001 to 99.8 million in 2004.
Research finds that 88 per cent of all businesses with Internet sites rated Web self-service as their most important CRM initiative or as important as any other CRM initiative. Firms cite reductions in contact centre traffic and in overall service costs as key reasons for moving to Web self-service offerings.
Web self-service allows a consumer to resolve a range of service requests themselves using an Internet-based application. These include frequently-asked-questions (FAQs), search engines, knowledge bases with natural language query front ends, structured dialogue (AI) systems, and virtual agents.
"Although a large percentage of institutions already have some Internet-based self-service options, very few today offer advanced facilities such as structured dialogue and virtual agents," says Richard Bell, senior analyst at Meridien. "As a result, investment in Web self-service is a significant differentiator and potential competitive advantage on the Web today."