San Mateo, Calif., — February 27, 2006 — New competitive intelligence from Keynote Systems (Nasdaq: KEYN), The Internet Performance Authority®, shows Discover, American Express and Chase charging ahead in the credit card industry by providing the best online experience for prospective card customers at a time when online services are becoming an increasingly important factor in the card selection process. More than half (52%) of prospective credit card customers consider online account management an essential component of credit card services, with only account fees and interest rates considered more important as a selection factor.
The Keynote Rankings for Credit Card Prospects study is an examination of the customer experience and service levels on leading credit card Web sites. The study is based on an examination of the online experience of 2,000 prospective credit card customers as they interacted with leading credit card Web sites; and an examination of the technical service levels on these sites including overall site responsiveness and reliability. The American Express (NYSE: AXP), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Capital One (NYSE: COF), Chase (NYSE: JPM), Citi (NYSE: C), Discover (NYSE: MS), HSBC (NYSE: HFC), MBNA (NYSE: KRB), U.S. Bank (NYSE: USB) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) sites were examined for the studies.
Discover, American Express, Chase Provide Consumers the Best Online Experience
Keynote reports the competition for new customers in the $42 billion credit card industry is heating up online as consumers increasingly turn to the Internet to research and compare credit cards, and as online account services become increasingly important in card selection.
Discover, American Express and Chase topped the Keynote Customer Experience Rankings, an overall measure of site success across the more than 250+ metrics measured during the study. Keynote also ranked the sites in more than a dozen subcategories including customer satisfaction, customer acquisition and brand affinity, as well as functions such as ease of applying for a card online.
|Keynote Customer Experience Rankings Credit Card Web Sites|
Discover was the top site in terms of the online customer experience based on its leadership position in credit card satisfaction, an indication of consumer satisfaction with its interest rates and fees as compared to other leading cards. Discover was also considered the easiest credit card to apply for online — and the easiest company to deal with, with almost two-thirds (71%) of online consumers expressing this sentiment.
American Express was considered the "high value" and most "trustworthy" brand by online consumers, and made exploring online services easy for prospective card customers. The American Express site also ranked highest in satisfaction in the area of online services offered. Chase performed well based in part on its leadership in the area of customer support and overall credit card satisfaction.
Chase, Citi and American Express Leaders in Online Customer Acquisition
The Keynote evaluation of customer acquisition success determined that those sites providing the best online site experience also performed well in attracting new customers. Chase and American Express were joined by Citi in topping the Keynote Customer Acquisition Index, which measures which sites are doing the most effective job of acquiring customers online.
Approximately 30% of prospective customer visiting the Chase, Citi and American Express sites indicated they were very likely or extremely likely to sign up for a credit card account with those companies. Comparably, the bottom ranked sites registered only 16% of the prospects visiting their site as being interested in a card.
|Keynote Customer Acquisition Rankings Credit Card Web Sites|
More than half (52%) of study participants indicated that online account management services were very important or extremely important in their selection of a new credit card account. This represents a close to 8% increase in the number of online consumers indicating online account management as an essential factor in their card selection considerations, as compared to just a year ago when Keynote last conducted its study. Only 8% of online consumers in the study said that online account services were not very or not at all important in their selection process.
Consumers also are increasingly interested in cash-back programs offered by credit card companies, with 39% of online consumers expressing an interest in these programs, almost on par with the 41% who consider travel rewards programs a key factor in their card selection process.
"Although the online channel has not traditionally been where consumers apply for cards, credit card sites and online services do have a major impact on consumer decisions," said Dr. Bonny Brown, director of research and public services at Keynote Systems. "The impact of card sites on consumer decisions and behavior is steadily increasing, and card companies need to sit up and take notice."
HSBC, Providian Charge Ahead with Industry's Best Service Levels
The Keynote Service Level Rankings for Credit Card Web Sites found the HSBC, Providian and Wells Fargo Web sites to have the industry's best reliability, indicating those sites were highly available and experienced little or no downtime. HSBC and Providian were also the industry's best in terms of site responsiveness, an indication of how fast the sites were in down loading pages and conducting transactions. Chase was also a leader in terms of site responsiveness.
|Keynote Service Level Rankings Site Reliability|
|Keynote Service Level Rankings Site Responsiveness|
The credit card industry demonstrated excellent reliability, averaging 99.3% reliability for the top sites, and with HSBC reporting 99.9% average reliability. However, a handful of credit card sites did record significantly worse reliability, with one site experiencing 25 hours of outages during the month long evaluation period.
The industry seems to be gearing its business primarily toward broadband users, and service for high-speed users was excellent with average page downloads of just 1.7 seconds, with MBNA and Wells Fargo loading in under 1 second. However, performance for dial-up users was just "mediocre" according to Keynote, with page downloads averaging almost 30 seconds. Ironically, the slowest performance for dial-up users was during the account application process.
A large number of sites showed inconsistent performance, with performance spiking and plunging during different periods, indicating general instability in their infrastructure and hosting environment, something atypical in the financial services industry.
"In general, the online credit card industry performs close to the same reliability and responsiveness found across other online financial services industries," said Ben Rushlo, manager of professional services with Keynote. "However, the sites performing below the industry performance standard are performing quite out of range, and are among the poorest performing sites not only in the credit card industry, but in the financial services industry as a whole. Of course, this can undermine the ability of these sites to acquire new customers."
For an abstract about Keynote's competitive intelligence studies of customer experience and service levels provided by credit card Web sites view:
For more information about Keynote's Competitive Intelligence offerings view: http://www.keynote.com/solutions/competitive_intelligence_tpl.html
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Founded in 1995, Keynote Systems (Nasdaq "KEYN") is the worldwide leader in services that improve online business performance and communications technologies. Keynote helps approximately 2,300 corporate customers and 11,000 individual subscribers become "the best of the best" online. The business premise supporting Keynote's mission is: "Online businesses can't manage what they don't measure." As an independent and trusted third-party, Keynote provides IT and marketing executives with unbiased benchmarking data, competitive analysis and operational metrics from the customer perspective. This data measures service levels and customer experience of Web sites, broadband services and mobile communications.
Known as The Internet Performance Authority®, Keynote manages a market-leading infrastructure of 1,600+ measurement computers and mobile devices in over 114 locations and 66+ metropolitan areas worldwide that assess service levels and a panel of over 160,000 consumers who participate in interactive Web site tests that assess user experience. These online user experience tests capture customer attitude and behavior to answer the critical "why" behind the "what." Keynote's geographically distributed measurement services, on-site monitoring appliances, competitive intelligence and custom studies ensure that its customers outpace their competitors in online service levels and overall user experience.
Keynote Systems, Inc. is headquartered in San Mateo, California and can be reached at www.keynote.com or by phone in the U.S. at 650-403-2400.
Keynote, The Internet Performance Authority and Perspective are registered trademarks of Keynote Systems, Inc. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2006 Keynote Systems, Inc.