September 06, 2012

Citibank and Wells Fargo earned the top marks among U.S. banks in digital sales efforts, according to a new report from Forester Research.

The research and analyst firm based the rankings on both the usability and functionality of opening a checking account using a digital channel. According to Forrester, nine percent of U.S. adults who use the internet applied for a checking account in 2012 and of that nine percent, 20 percent did so through digital channels (online or mobile) -- representing continued growth in the effectiveness of digital sales at banks. This is the third year Forrester has conducted the report.

In the U.S., Citibank and Wells Fargo earned top marks, each scoring a 69 on a 100-point scale. In Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada claimed the top spot. While Canadian banks overall made significant improvements in the checking account online application process this year, the U.S. banks still set the standard in general, said Forrester. The average score for online applications for all U.S. banks was 74, almost 20 points higher than for Canadian banks.

According to the report, bank sales sites still have several areas that can be improved. The report found they tend to focus too much on product or product category, have segment areas that fail to have differentiated content, and they poorly cross-sell their product bundles.

Forrester recommends that banks turn merchandising into a discipline, and move away from checking account sales sites that focus only on the product features and instead should devote more attention to channels, customer service, and the provider. Also, banks should provide a multi-channel onboarding experience, and think more strategically about the mobile channel.

"Now is the time for digital teams to determine their strategy for this evolving channel," reads part of the report. "Digital teams need to recognize that they may need a different strategy for the phone versus tablets. In their current incarnation, mobile phones may play a supporting role for sales, especially in the fulfillment area. The tablet, on the other hand, will be a device that can and will be used to both research and apply for financial products."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 ...