Credit cardholders ‘want to manage accounts via web
The majority of credit cardholders want to manage their accounts via the web, according to a UK study from customer research company Global Reviews. But according to a second study completed by the same firm, the leading financial comparison sites fail to deliver on customer experience. 1 in 5 people have bought financial services products through comparison websites*.
These internet supermarkets display hundreds of options for the would-be borrower or saver, so it’s crucial that they’re easy to use. However a new benchmark has found that this growing online industry could provide customers with a significantly better online experience. Money Supermarket, Find and Beat That Quote have been rated as offering a below average “customer experience” in the “Comparing the Comparison Sites” Benchmark.
Money Expert, Kelkoo, Fool and Money Extra were found to offer an above average “customer experience”, but even these websites have many areas which could be improved.
In the credit card study, the results showed that around two thirds (64%) of people prefer to apply for credit cards online, with only 20% saying they would rather go to a branch and seven per cent saying they would prefer to use the phone. Over two thirds (68%) of respondents also want to be able to manage their credit card account via the web. Rates and fees are still the most important criteria for customers when choosing a credit card provider, with 51% citing ‘no annual fee’ as the most important criteria and 46% citing interest rates.
Only 40% said online account management was most important to them when choosing a card. The internet is also a popular tool for finding information, with 78% of credit card customers using the web to research deals. In contrast, only 11% visit a branch for credit card information and two per cent use the phone.
When searching for information however, the comparison sites are not pleasing. The financial comparison websites that were examined by Global Reviews were: Money Expert, Kelkoo, Fool, Money Extra, Money Supermarket, Find and Beat That Quote. The websites were assessed against over 150 different criteria, including the information available on the home pages, the ability to browse, the quality of the search engines and how the search results are displayed. The benchmark scored Money Supermarket (41%), Find (35%) and Beat that Quote (28%) against the industry average of 48%. Money Expert led the league table with 63%, followed by Kelkoo (61%), Fool (58%) and Money Extra (51%).
Few websites offer a consistent experience across the range of financial products. A website that is good for mortgages may not be good for savings accounts making it difficult to build customer loyalty. The study suggested that customers looking for Mortgages and Credit Cards should visit Money Expert for the best online experience, however those looking for savings and personal loans should visit Fool.
Mortgage search engines were found to be the best, followed by loans, then savings and finally credit cards. However the quality of the savings search engines across the sites averaged only 30%, with only Fool offering a good quality savings search engine (75%). A Global Reviews survey also found that 64% of people have used a comparison website, but only 20% actually used it to purchase. Only 55% said that they found these websites easy to use, which may account for why many people who use the websites do not purchase from them. Two-thirds of respondents said they were Very Likely or Likely to use these sites in future. Perched for such growth, the quality of the customer experience as a key differentiator between websites is particularly important.
Global Reviews director, Adam Goodvach said: These companies are changing the face of the financial markets. However, their entire business is their websites, so it’s crucial that they are easy to use. Unfortunately consumers’ online experience varies dramatically depending on the comparison site they are visiting and the product they are seeking. “They promise to help us find the best deal, but don’t always make it easy to do so. It is easy for customers to switch between websites, so if providers cannot offer their customers what they want, their competitor is only a click away. There is a clear opportunity for companies to improve customer conversion and build loyalty by improving customer experience.”
Credit card company best practice
As part of the credit card study Global Reviews created a benchmark of best practice with over 540 different criteria against which 12 of the UK’s leading provider Web sites were assessed. Criteria included the content and tools, customer support, prospective customer information, online application and site utility. Lloyds TSB’s credit card Web site came out top in the study and scored 60% against an industry average of 48%, followed by Egg with 53% and HSBC with 49%.
Lloyds TSB was also found to offer the best online application service, scoring 56% against an industry average of only 36%. Virtual bank First Direct came last in the study of 12, scoring just 33% against an industry average of 48%. Natwest was found to be the second worst site scoring 40%, followed by Hbos on 41% and Virgin with 42%. Egg received the highest scores for information for prospective customers (73%) and customer support (69%), while Hbos scored only 14% for its online support. Egg was also found to offer the best content and tools with a score of 54% – compared to an abysmal 15% for Capital One.
Commenting on the findings, Adam Goodvach, director, Global Reviews, says: “With so many customers going online, providers wanting to attract these customers need to make sure that their Web site offers the information customers are looking for. All the online applications we looked at could be significantly improved. There is a lot more that providers can be doing to make it easier for their customers online.”