Banks miss the mark on Web use: study

A four-year study to be released by Unisys in coming months disproves the widely held belief that banks are effectively utilising Internet technology.

A Web Responsiveness Study of the world's 400 biggest banks shows they are failing miserably on the Internet with more than half not even including contact details on their sites.

Unisys has been sitting on the results it has compiled annually for four years, but the company's strategy and marketing vice president Chris Skinner told Computerworld it will formally release the findings in November.

Disclosing details of the study, Global Future Forum associate director and IT commentator Peter de Jager, said the "notion that the banking industry has embraced the Internet is a fantasy". He said a Web site couldn't even be found for 94 of the 400 banks but much worse, 164 of those surveyed did not provide an e-mail address or contact details.

"This is astounding considering a Web site is not cheap to run," de Jager said.

Of the remaining banks, he said 64 did not reply when an e-mail was sent to them asking to open an account.

He said the remaining responses were 'totally unacceptable'. For example, a reply was provided stating the e-mail had been received without any further follow-up.

"Why buy CRM when you don't even answer an e-mail; it is an act in futility, but they will still buy it and spend the money without any supporting mechanisms in place to make it effective," de Jager said.

"Before putting CRM in place you have to first have the philosophy that the customer is king." Last year the study found 25 per cent of those surveyed had unacceptable responses to e-mail enquiries compared to 5 per cent the previous year.

"We're getting better at frustrating users than ever before," deJager said, adding that large organisations provide desktop PCs that are more powerful than mainframes of 10 years ago, but offer very little training because they are supposed to be so 'user friendly'.

* Sandra Van Dijk is a guest of Unisys at its international management centre in Saint Paul de Vence in France

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