By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer
When it comes to meeting consumers' needs on the Internet, major U.S. banks might need to click up their efforts to retain business.
At least that's the consensus of a new national study that analyzed the online services of financial-services companies ranking among the nation's 1,000 largest companies.
The Spring 2003 Online Customer Respect Study, which included the seven largest banks in Greater Cincinnati, assigned a customer respect index to each company. That index gave an independent look of a customer's online experience when dealing with companies via the Web.
On a scale of 1 to 10, only one company among 77 financial services companies, Franklin Resources Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., even cracked the 9 mark, at 9.2. Zions Bancorporation of Salt Lake City had the worst score at 2.3 percent, and the banking sector as a group averaged 6.7.
Locally, U.S. Bank grabbed the highest index of the largest banks with Tristate operations, coming in at 8.1. Others with large local operations: Provident Financial Group Inc., 7.7; Bank One Corp., 7.5; KeyCorp, 7.4; Fifth Third Bancorp, 7.3; Huntington Bancshares Inc., 6.2; and PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 4.5.
The biggest thing that hurt the firms' online scores: Almost a third don't answer inquiries made at their Web sites.
"Industry executives rate customer retention and satisfaction as the most important goals of their online strategies," Donal Day, chief executive of the Customer Respect Group, says. "So it's an eye-opener to see that 29 percent of the financial-services companies don't respond to online inquiries."
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