More than 56% of the top 150 financial service firms in the United States leave customers and prospects stranded in cyberspace according to a study jointly funded by Onyx Software, Microsoft and Genesys.
The study, conducted by research firm Celent, focused on sales and service, and found that 56 percent of the firms surveyed either did not accept Web-based queries or did not respond to inquiries placed online by potential customers.
"Financial services firms are relationship-intensive businesses, and the fact that most of those firms queried are not leveraging the Internet as a channel to serve customers and reach new ones is a huge missed opportunity," says Onyx Software president and CEO, Brent Frei. "E-commerce may affect the way business is conducted, but it doesn't change the rules. Customers expect businesses to know them, regardless of the channel they choose to interact with a financial institution."
Celent estimates that the financial services industry will spend nearly $500 million developing and deploying Internet technologies - yet only 23 percent of the sample surveyed provided acceptable email responses to online leads and only five percent of all firms surveyed personally contacted the prospect via telephone to follow up on the opportunity. The most common response received was no response at all.
"The financial services industry is stranding potential customers in cyber-space and leaving enormous investments unrealised," says Octavio Marenzi, managing director of Celent. "These companies are failing to capitalise on one of the important advantages offered by the Web - namely the ability to acquire new customers and cross-sell more products to existing customers. No firm would place a customer on hold for five days before helping them, the Internet should be no different."
The study included 150 leading US banking, brokerage, mutual fund, insurance, and Internet-only financial service firms. Posing as potential customers, Celent initiated two Web-based inquiries to each of the 150 firms. Only eight of the sample, or just five percent, actually followed-up with a quality response. The study evaluated response time, appropriateness and quality of the response, and whether or not additional follow-up occurred after the initial response. Traditional financial service firms with a Web presence (bricks-to -clicks) fared better in response time and follow-up than Internet-only financial service firms.