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Banks failing in Web use

A four-year study to be released by Unisys in the coming months disproves the widely held belief that banks are effectively utilising Internet technology.

A Web responsiveness study of the world's 400 biggest banks shows they are failing miserably on the Internet, with more than half not even including contact details on their sites.

Unisys has been sitting on the results it has compiled annually over the four years, but will formally release the findings in November.

Disclosing details of the study Peter de Jager, an IT commentator and associate director of the Global Future Forum, dismissed the notion that the banking industry has embraced the Internet as "a fantasy". He said that for 94 of the 400 banks a Web site could not even be found. A further 164 did not even provide an e-mail address or contact details.

"This is astounding considering a Web site is not cheap to run," de Jager said.

Of the remaining banks, 64 did not reply when sent an e-mail asking to open an account. The responses from other banks were, according to de Jager, "totally unacceptable". One bank provided a reply confirming receipt of the e-mail, but no follow-up.

The Unisys study found that 25% of banks surveyed had unacceptable responses to e-mail enquiries last year, compared to only 5% the previous year.

"We're getting better at frustrating users than ever before," de Jager said. "Why buy CRM [customer relationship management] when you don't even answer an e-mail? It is an act in futility, but they will still buy it and spend the money without any supporting mechanisms in place to make it effective.

"Before putting CRM in place you have to first have the philosophy that the customer is king."

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