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Study Shows Banks Lacking in Customer Service Deliverables

February 21, 2008

Customer service should be essential in all industries, especially in the banking industry. After all these organizations are handling a consumer’s most prize possession – money. While many of them excel in service over the phone and in the call center, it is the other channels that appear to be lacking.

According to the American Bankers’ Association, the banking industry holds in excess of $7.17 trillion in loans, including the billions of dollars in mortgage, credit card, auto loans and commercial loans.

As products and services are being rapidly commoditized and the cost of switching is low, customer service is now a primary competitive differentiator banks are striving to have over one another.

A just released audit commissioned by online customer service specialist Talisma Corporation (News - Alert) reveals significant service failures by the top 50 banks in North America.

A mystery shopper exercise conducted during November 2007 queried the top banks on how to open an account and what kind of products and services are available for individual customers.

This audit reveled that 36 percent of customer e-mails went unanswered by the banks; 94 percent of those audited did not offer live chat as a communication channel; and 94 percent of banks did not offer a tune dynamic, flexible knowledge base, the majority of banks offered little more than a list of static FAQs.

During this study, Talisma awarded each bank a score out of 100, based on a range of customer service criteria, such as speed of response, accuracy, completeness of information provided, and the personalization of interactions.

"Meeting expectations through customer service is a distinct trust issue with consumers in today's competitive marketplace," said Steve Cox (News - Alert), Vice President, Council of Better Business Bureaus, in a Thursday statement.

"The Talisma report clearly highlights that our nation's leading banks need to examine, and then take action to improve, performance on customer service practices that build consumer confidence, loyalty and trust."

"We hope this report will be a catalyst that sparks an improvement in online banking customer service," said Dan Vetras, President & CEO, Talisma, in a Thursday statement.

"While it is encouraging that banks are providing good customer service via the phone, with the mass adoption of online banking it is imperative to offer a variety of online customer service touch points in order to attract and retain business. In addition to providing these online customer service channels, responses must be consistent, timely and accurate."

Switching banks has become too easy for customer service to be an afterthought. The industry is suffering significantly right now with profits shrinking and downsizing becoming standard business.

As a result, these banks must take an internal look at processes and understand how they match with consumer demands for service. Only then can a bank effectively execute a strategy for effective change.

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

For all the latest enterprise IP communications, unified communications, and contact center news, please click here.

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