Magazine article American Banker

Losing Customers and Opportunities to E-Mail Neglect

Magazine article American Banker

Losing Customers and Opportunities to E-Mail Neglect

Article excerpt

I've heard community bankers complain that not enough customers are using their Web sites to justify the expense of setting up the sites.

But Michelle R. Gula, the manager of interactive marketing at BNK Advisory Group of Northampton, Pa., suggests that it's wrong to assume that most customers don't want to try online banking. In an internal memo to BNK clients, she said bankers disappointed in the response to this form of banking may have only themselves to blame.

Ms. Gula had been hearing that many prospective customers who e-mailed banks for information about e-banking never received a reply, so she decided to do some research to find out if that were true.

She e-mailed this message to 50 community banks: "I am moving to the area, and I am interested in opening my household accounts at your institution. Please provide me with information about your checking and savings accounts, as well as what you offer in CDs and mutual funds. Also, do you have any recommendations for insurance carriers in your area?"

Only three banks got back to her by the end of the day. A few others got back to her within a few days, but the majority never responded at all.

Ms. Gula's conclusion: "When you add the e-mail feature to your Web site, you send the message that this is another way for people to reach you. For those customers that found you online, your failure to respond to their request is just as bad as turning your back on them in your branch. Not only does it send a bad message to your current and potential customers, but it also causes you to miss opportunities."

How should banks handle e-mail inquiries?

First, Ms. Gula said, they should have a system that immediately and automatically sends a response to any online message stating that the message has been received, and that someone will contact the sender with further information within one business day. …

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