PC Financial’s online banking site gets top ‘user experience’ rating

President’s Choice Financial’s Web site does the best job of wooing prospective customers, a new study finds.

The survey was done by Keynote Systems Inc. in San Mateo, Calif., a provider of test and measurement tools to enhance the online experience.

For the past couple of years the firm has conducted comprehensive user experience studies of U.S. and U.K.-based banks’ Web sites. Now it has done a similar survey for the major Canadian banks.

Keynote’s survey involving 1,750 Canadian adults reviewed the sites of BMO Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and Toronto Dominion Canada Trust.

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Users were asked to give their impressions of the banking sites as they experienced them. Participants performed such basic tasks as looking for a chequing account, using customer support, and viewing the home page.

Good site organization and clarity of language were key to PC Financial’s success, says study lead Christopher Musto, general manager of competitive research at Keynote.

They organize their site in a way that helps people locate things, says Musto. “It’s a site that engages you.”

Study participants used phrases such as “easy to deal with,”, “friendly,” “high value,” and “innovative” to describe the PC Financial Web site.

The site received high scores for organization, help and support, ease of opening an account, and privacy and security.

On the other hand, many users of the National Bank’s Web site didn’t have a satisfying experience when trying to open an account online, and of the site’s organization.

“They had a bit of trouble with the labels and terminology on the site,” Musto says.

One in 11 users said they found terms on the National Bank site unclear when opening an account. By contrast, just one in 40 users of the BMO site in the study said the same thing.

As part of the study, each bank’s site had 250 users evaluating it, who weren’t existing customers of that bank.

Keynote identified which site factors had the most effect on brand impact and likelihood of new customer acquisition.

It found site organization is the best predictor of overall customer experience. Other important factors were ease of opening an account, and help and support features.

“Our goal was to understand which public sites do the most to lift brand and [lead to] conversion,” Musto says. A bank’s site plays a vital role in introducing the institution and its product to consumers who don’t already have a relationship with the bank, he says.

BMO ranked second to PC Financial in overall customer experience. CIBC came in third, followed by RBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, and National Bank.

Users had a positive overall experience on each Web site. They always reported thinking better of a brand after using the Web site, and never thought less of a bank as a result of the online interaction.

Keynote’s study was conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 6. It will release another study in Fall 2010.

Responsiveness and reliability

Keynote also tested banking Web sites for technical quality based on 2,000 measurements. This study took place between Sept. 22 and Oct. 11.

In making their ratings for resonsiveness, Keynote measured the average download times for high speed and dial up connections. It also measured how consistent the download time is across Canada, and if the site performs well during peak periods.

Here are the rankings for site responsiveness:

  1. Scotiabank
  2. BMO Bank of Montreal
  3. TD Canada Trust
  4. PC Financial
  5. National Bank of Canada
  6. CIBC
  7. RBC Royal Bank

Reliability measures site availability and the number of outage hours. Here’s the rankings:

  1. National Bank of Canada
  2. TD Canada Trust
  3. RBC Royal Bank
  4. PC Financial
  5. Scotiabank
  6. BMO Bank of Montreal
  7. CIBC

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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