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Bank Websites Must Meet Digital Customers' Needs, Says Forrester

The secure websites of the largest retail banks in the U.S. are not evolving to meet the current needs and expectations of consumers in a digital environment, said the research firm.

The secure websites of the largest retail banks in the U.S. are not evolving to meet the current needs and expectations of consumers in a digital environment, according to a new report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.

The report examined the secure websites of the six largest domestic banks, and how their they stack up against each other across all digital banking touchpoints. According to Forrester, the average score across the banks dropped four full points in this year's survey. This is not because banks' sites got worse, but rather it is because of more stringent criteria to reflect digital bankers' evolving needs and expectations, said the research firm.

Overall, Citi ranked first, followed by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank. According to Forrester, Citi toped the rankings due to presentation and robust functionality, such as an integrated PFM tool with spending charts embedded in the main landing page.

According to the report, functionality that supports cross-channel activities, PFM tools and third-party offers are now critical aspects for a bank's website, whereas in the past they may have been overlooked.

"Bank customers invariably come to their providers’ websites and other digital touchpoints to do something, to complete a task," a portion of the report reads. "Today that means more than transferring funds and paying bills — although these features remain absolutely critical to a bank’s digital success."

In addition to evaluating key transactional tasks conducted by digital bankers, the report examined which service features are available in bank's secure websites and how robust the functionality is that supports those services.

According to the report, enabling straightforward self-service tasks like changing contact preferences or reordering checks via digital touchpoints helps both the customers and banks. Also, the research firm said that online chat is becoming a feature consumers expect, and even though most banks offer chat functions on their public websites, just two of the six reviewed currently offer online chat to existing customers on their secure website.

Forrester also said that in-app alerts and e-delivery -- that is, the ability for clients to access, view, save, or print statements and other documents via digital channels -- will continue to become integral in serving digital bankers.

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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