Citibank finishes first with top scores for features and value in this fall’s PowerRankings of online banks by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Forrester PowerRankings combines survey data from online consumers and unbiased shopping tests to provide objective rankings of the leading US eCommerce sites. The companies that rank below Citibank are Wells Fargo, Bank One, First Union, Wachovia, U.S. Bank, Fleet Bank, Bank of America, Washington Mutual Bank, and Chase Manhattan.
Citibank ranks highest in value, thanks in part to free bill payment. But like all of the tested bank sites, it has drawbacks, including an average 60-hour delay in responding to email inquiries. And the site doesn’t remember visitors, constantly forcing loyal users and prospective customers to select their geographic location when accessing the home page.
Easy-to-use Wells Fargo places second, just a few points off the lead. The site earns the highest marks in usability, despite its overcrowded navigation bars. The banking and bill payment sections are straightforward, but having to provide a social security number and password in order to wait on hold can be frustrating.
Bank One registers a close third, aided by its free bill payment and effective search engine. Its Internet-only accounts are a good bargain — with a low $500 minimum balance and five free off-network ATM transactions. But limitations like inconsistent navigation and restricted call center hours hold the site back.
Despite high marks in customer service, low scores in usability and transacting sink Chase Manhattan to last place. The site has a sleek home page and free bill payment, but prospective customers can’t open a checking account or compare account features and fees online.
“None of the banks tested stood out from the crowd,” said Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “Disconnected online banking and bill payment sections require customers to log off one section to access another, while other banks have accounts available online but make consumers phone in transactions, resulting in an inconvenient online banking experience. Needless to say, there’s plenty of room for improvement from No. 1 to No. 10.”
For the latest PowerRankings, Forrester surveyed 10,000 consumers from the NPD Group’s online panel. These consumers identified the financial institutions that they have an online account with and rated their experiences. A team of Forrester shoppers then evaluated the experience on sites that had a statistically valid number of consumer respondents by performing a series of rigorous tests. The consumer data and Forrester shopper scores were then synthesized and weighted, with consumer views accounting for two-thirds of the overall PowerRanking. A complete set of PowerRankings results — both consumer and Forrester shopper data — is made available to all ranked companies free of charge.
In the coming weeks, Forrester will announce the results of additional PowerRankings categories. Additional information about each of the categories, including a complete set of rankings and scores, can be found can be found at the PowerRankings Web site — powerrankings.forrester.com.