BELLEVUE, Wash. (3/6/08)--Add another one to the pile of reports that give banks less-than-stellar marks on their customer service. An audit of the online service provided to customers of the top 50 retail banks in North America pointed out significant service failures by the banks, according to Talisma Corp., a Bellevue, Wash.-based online customer service provider. A mystery shopper exercise queried the banks during November on "how to open an account" and "what kind of product and services are available for individual customers." The audit's findings:
* 36% of customers' e-mails went unanswered by the banks; * 96% of the banks audited did not offer live chat as a communication channel; * 94% of banks did not offer a "true" dynamic, flexible knowledge base. A majority offered little more than a list of static Frequently Asked Questions.
According to Steve Cox, vice president, Council of Better Business Bureaus, "Meeting expectations through customer service is a distinct trust issue with consumers in today's competitive marketplace. 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." While banks are examining their performance and trying to catch up with credit unions in the personal service arena, credit unions may be tempted to coast on their own success record in member trust and customer satisfaction surveys. But don't. "In an industry where products and services are rapidly commoditized and the cost of switching is low, member/customer service is now a primary competitive differentiator" among banks, said Talisma.