Awareness and Usage of Website Functionality Helps Drive Satisfaction among Self-Directed Investors

Data from the J.D. Power 2014 Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study finds that customer satisfaction can be significantly impacted by improving the awareness and usage of website functionality.

For example, ensuring that customers are aware of ‘financial planning tools’ can improve Website satisfaction by 87 index points (on a 1,000-point scale). Taking it a step further, ensuring that customers actually use ‘financial planning tools’ can drive an additional improvement of 28 index points.

Awareness of website features can also vary widely across the different firms measured in the study. Therefore, it is critical for each firm to understand where their customers may require additional education on website functionality or additional encouragement to actually use certain features.


For firms that have already invested valuable resources in the development of website functionality, it is critical for them to educate their customers on the available offerings and encourage usage. Failure to do so may impact the ROI (return on investment) they receive from expenditures dedicated to the website. Effective marketing campaigns, website tutorials and personal demonstrations are some methods available to firms looking to increase website awareness and/or usage.

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Importance of Onboarding Self-Directed Investors

By definition, self-directed investors tend to have a less ‘personal’ relationship with their investment firm compared to other investors. Because of this, there is less opportunity for firms to personally engage clients and educate them on available products and services, thereby placing greater importance on the onboarding phase of the relationship. Firms that can successfully onboard new clients stand to benefit from improved satisfaction that may ultimately lead to increased loyalty and propensity to invest.

Educating new clients on the tools and resources available to them is a primary goal of the onboarding process. Data from the 2014 J.D. Power and Associates Self-Directed Investor Study finds that increasing awareness (and usage) of available tools can significantly increase investor satisfaction.


Study findings also indicate that encouraging customers to use one set of tools drives increased awareness and usage of additional tools. For example, familiarizing self-directed investors on basic tools, such as investing basics or budgeting tools, drives greater usage of more advanced tools such as asset allocation or financial planning.

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Maximizing the On-Boarding Experience

Banks should understand that the account initiation process does not end after customers have opened their accounts and the initial interaction with bank representatives has concluded. New customers presume ongoing value, and have come to expect a personal follow-up contact from the bank shortly after the initial interaction.

We offer the following tips to help you maximize the on-boarding experience:


Timing is critical

While ideally the follow-up contact should occur within 2 days after the account is opened (8.46 satisfaction rating for overall account initiation, on a 10-point scale), our data shows that a contact within 2-7 days after account opening also results in high levels of satisfaction (8.31), but notably declines when the contact occurs after 7 days (7.87).

Pick up the phone

Follow-up phone calls result in the highest levels of account initiation satisfaction (8.44), followed by other methods including email and mail (8.03). Satisfaction declines to 6.78 when no follow-up is received.

Data sourc:  2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.  ©2012 J.D. Power and Associates The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Save the sales pitch for later

Don’t treat the initial follow-up contact as a sales opportunity, but rather as a contact strictly related to the accounts that were recently opened, with the bank representative thanking the customer for their business….or offering to answer any questions related to their current products and fees.  Immediate follow-up contact is also the perfect opportunity to confirm a customer’s e-mail address (for future communication) or ensure a customer has successfully activated online banking and online bill pay services.  After all, the initial selling or cross-selling should have already occured during account initiation.

Although the follow-up contact should not be a sales pitch, customers who do receive a follow-up contact from their bank are more likely to open additional accounts, such as money markets, credit cards, home equity loans, personal loans etc. later on, once a relationship has been established.

The bank rep should make contact

It is important that the follow-up contact be made by the same bank representative who originally opened the account(s), as this type of relationship building results in a significant increase in satisfaction with the account initiation process (8.62 vs. 7.74 for contacts made by other bank personnel).

The bottom line:

Follow-up with a phone call to all new customers as soon as possible after the account(s) are opened. Welcome them by thanking them for their business, answering any additional questions……..and save the cross-selling for a later date after they’ve already been “on-board” for a while.

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Who’s Switching Banks & Why?

Next week, we’ll be releasing our 2012 Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study (SM). This study will explore the triggers that cause customers to shop for a new bank or a new account, their perceptions of bank brands, and how they make their purchase decision. The study will also include information on those who switched primary financial institutions in the past 12 months.

The customers of the top 25 financial institutions in the industry, as well as customers of small banks and credit unions are targeted in this study.

Focusing on the stages of the purchase process, the 2012 Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study will answer the following questions:

  • The Shopping Process – Who is shopping? What prompts a customer to shop? What are they shopping for?
  • Awareness – What drives greater awareness?
  • Consideration – How are customers shopping? What impacts a financial institution’s consideration? Why are financial institutions avoided?
  • Selection – What drives shoppers to select a financial institution?
  • New Account Initiation and On-Boarding – What are the new account initiation best practices? What experience differences improve share of wallet?


To receive a copy of the press release when it’s available, or to learn about how J.D. Power and Associates can help you integrate the Voice of the Customer into your products and services.



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3 Reasons Customers May Break Up With Your Bank & How to Avoid Them

Just like with couples, the relationship between retail banking customers and their financial institution is complex. As with any relationship, a healthy connection between two parties is one that develops over time and is typically based on mutual respect, trust, honesty and support.

Most of us know that it takes effort for healthy relationships to work! Whether we like it or not however, breakups do happen and in the case of bank customers, they get over them quickly and move on to another bank relationship.

The following are a few valuable insights about why retail bank customers may break up with you and how you can implement a few change initiatives to maintain a healthy connection with your customers….to avoid the bank break up.

Reason #1: Callous Communication – Problems become a customer’s biggest problem

Problem prevention needs to be a high priority for all financial institutions, given the incidence of problems (22% of customers¹ indicate experiencing a problem) and the significant impact that problem incidence has on overall customer satisfaction.

Prevention Tips

  • Ensure customers understand fee structures, deal honestly with them and explain the fees right up front – it improves awareness of fees and minimizes complaints.
  • Engage new customers during account initiation to identify their needs and sell them the products that meet those needs … lowers the incidence of future problems if they are happy from the start.
  • Empower bank representatives (branch and call center) with the necessary authority, and provide proper training that will allow them to address any customer misunderstandings at the first point of contact. It will eliminate confusion for future problems.
[1] J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study

Reason #2 – Unmet Needs – You’re not giving them enough of what they want Continue reading ›

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What Will 2012 Bring for the Banking Industry?

Original post by Staff on December 21, 2011

As we wrap up 2011 and head into the New Year, we asked some of our readers to share their thoughts on the banking industry in 2012. This past year has been filled with mobile and tablet innovation, but will that carry on in 2012? How will social media impact financial institutions in the next year? Here’s what the experts are saying:

  • “Of those banks that are currently using social media as a channel to communicate with their customers, much of the focus has been on appealing to Gen X and Gen Y customers,” says Karen Licker, Financial Consultant & Social Banker (Independent) for J.D. Power and Associates. “Clearly Gen X and Gen Y customers comprise the majority of those subscribing to and using social media, but the number of Pre-Boomers and Boomers who do so as well is growing at a considerable rate. In addition, Based on J.D. Power’s 2011 Retail Satisfaction Survey, nearly one in five Gen X and Gen Y customers state that they are likely to utilize social media for banking-related topics in the future, and more than one in 10 Pre-Boomer and Boomer customers are likely to do the same. Banks should be prepared to interact with and satisfy the growing Pre-Boomer and Boomer customers too!”

© 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • “2012 will finally see the tipping point for mobile banking. Mobile moves beyond today’s limited functionality and starts to become the primary remote customer channel. Look for some interesting corporate bedfellows to emerge as the financial services ecosystem starts validating mobile payment business models and the importance of controlling new methods of money transfers and payments. We will see continued disruption in the space, as it relates to payments, security protocols, features like proximity rewards, integrated p2p and a2a with social tether, account opening, and more. Expect feature rich device agnostic applications that enhance usability and user experience across a range of mobile and tablet devices.” Bradley G. Leimer, Vice President, Online and Mobile Strategy at Mechanics Bank (@leimer)
  • “2012 will be the year of improved customer lifecycle management. With the fees and interest margins associated with accounts falling, there is a need to acquire a new customer more efficiently, onboard each new customer more effectively, achieve a higher level of relationship engagement and gain a greater share of wallet. Financial organizations will also need to focus more resources on retaining current clients since replacing these households has become so expensive.” Jim Marous, Senior Director, Marketing Services, Harland Clarke (@JimMarous)
  • “In the credit card space, service alerts have steadily grown in importance over the last few years,” says Michael Beird, Director of Banking Services for J.D. Power and Associates. “Based on J.D. Power’s 2011 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, cardholder satisfaction increases by 98 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) when service alerts are offered and used. Email (80%) is the most common form of service alert, and is followed by phone calls (23%); text messages (15%); and secure online messages (8%). Interestingly, secure online messaging is the lowest-used service alert feature, but it results in the highest satisfaction (783). While issuers still have to do a better job of informing their customers about the availability of the service, it’s clear that customers are seeking ongoing and proactive communication from their banks. Informing customers of status issues and concerns in real time, via text, email or secure online, is an emerging service that will likely grow exponentially in the year ahead.”

© 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Credit Card Satisfaction Study, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What do you think 2012 will bring for the banking and financial services industries? Leave us a comment below or Tweet @bankingdotcom or @JDPowerBanking. is blog is run by Intuit Financial Services, and provides access to insights from industry experts as well as resources for tapping into important customer segments.  Visit their homepage at or on Twitter at @bankingdotcom.



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