Credit unions have received the best score in customer satisfaction for mobile banking, beating out big banks, credit cards and brokerage firms, according to ForeSee, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based consumer research firm.
Only credit unions meet the threshold for excellence with a score of 80 on the 100-point scale, according to ForeSee’s Mobile Satisfaction Index: Financial Services Edition, which measured satisfaction of the customer experience with banks, credit unions, credit cards and brokerage companies.
American Express and Wells Fargo follow credit unions in the banking industry category at 79, while American Express and Discover top the credit card industry with the same score. Charles Schwab is alone on top of the brokerage industry, also scoring 79.
The aggregate score for the financial services Index was 77. Banks and credit unions (78), credit cards (76), and brokerages (77) are tightly grouped. The study is based on 4,500 customer surveys collected in October 2012
ForeSee's research shows that apps provide a superior experience to mobile websites and may be the key to competitive differentiation and growth, the research firm said.
However, all companies measured have a ways to go to provide a compelling mobile experience: traditional websites (as experienced on personal computers) still provide the best customer experience for financial services companies.
"As consumers put the power of the Internet in their pockets and purses in record numbers, there is no doubt that the future of customer engagement is mobile," said Eric Feinberg, ForeSee's director of mobile, media, and entertainment.
"The mobile experience represents the biggest opportunity—and the biggest challenge—for financial services companies because consumers are getting more comfortable managing their finances via mobile devices,” Feinberg said. “The company that can best understand how to meet the needs of the mobile consumer is going to succeed, and that's going to require the right kind of insight. Right now it's anyone's game."
Within five years, 46% of U.S. bank account holders are expected to use mobile banking apps, according to Forrester Research data quoted by ForeSee.
When comparing highly satisfied users of mobile websites and apps to less satisfied users (consumers who scored their experience 80 or higher compared to those scoring 69 or lower), the study found that highly satisfied visitors are more likely to prefer the brand, recommend the mobile channel, use the channel again, or use the mobile channel before any other information resource.
"Apps are an important tool for serving financial services customers, but the mobile website is going to be more important as a mobile channel for serving prospective customers," said Larry Freed, president/ CEO of ForeSee.
"This underlies the importance of measuring customer satisfaction, which can help a company improve its customer experience,” Freed said. “App store customer ratings and 5-star scale reviews might be interesting and entertaining, but they don't provide the kind of insights necessary for companies to distinguish useful feedback from the squeaky wheel."