Consumers Eager For Instant Account Alerts

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A survey of 400 bank account holders in both London and New York has found that consumers are eager for card issuers and financial institutions to increase the speed and the channels used for communications in the event of account irregularities.

The survey conducted by Adeptra (PDF) found that consumers want banks to quickly identify any indications of potentially fraudulent activity. Many said they expected instantaneous contact, and the majority said they would want to be contacted within an hour.

While both American and British consumers said they wanted automated voice messages for urgent matters, there were differences across the regions when it came to contact through multiple channels. For example in the US, 71% of respondents said that email was their preferred channel for communication with their bank. By comparison, here in the UK, the majority (61% of respondents) said they would most like their bank to contact them by SMS.

The survey found that consumers wanted their card issuers and banks to recognize and use their preferred channel to communicate account specific information. Revealing a divide between what consumers want and what they are being given, only 11% of consumers polled across America and the UK said they received SMS texts on mobile devices for communication other than regular bank statements. Given a choice, more than four times the number of those respondents, 47%, said they would prefer their banks to deliver mobile SMS messages for urgent communications.

While many banks are working to reduce paper statements for regular communications such as monthly statements, postal mail remains a common means for banks to deliver messages outside of regular statements, including notification of possible fraudulent activity. 49% of US respondents said their bank sent paper-based communications by post for communications other than regularly scheduled statements, where in the UK, 76% of respondents confirmed their bank or card issuer’s use of paper-based communications. However, the channel seems to be growing increasingly unpopular – especially in the US. Given a choice, only 16% of US respondents said they wanted to be contacted by post/mail, where in the UK, only 27% of respondents wanted to continue paper-based communications from their banks.

“What we are seeing here is an obvious gap in communications between banks and their consumers,” said Bill Brown, director of Worldwide Product Marketing for Adeptra. “The results of our survey are clear: consumers want faster notification of possible fraudulent behavior on their accounts; and are becoming increasingly more vocal about the ways they would like to hear from their banks and financial institutions. Whether by voice, SMS, email – or any combination of these methods, the opportunity for banks lies in listening to the consumer.

There is a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to close the communications gap, and to reassure their customers are being heard by using the right technology to match preferences and to communicate with their consumers quickly and decisively. It’s a win-win situation.”

The demand for immediacy is set to grow. With smart phone sales up 96% in 2010, consumers are more mobile than ever. Consumers will continue to expect more immediacy in communications and to be contacted as they prefer while they are on the move.

Brown concluded: “While we found that overall, two-thirds of consumers said their bank had emailed them in one way or the other, the fact that consumers said they expect quicker responses for account alerts, suggests that banks are not taking advantage of the opportunities for instant communication through mobile devices. Banks should be utilizing mobile communications to reach consumers in real time and in the way they prefer. Financial institutions that don’t take hold of this opportunity will potentially lose customers, reputation and market share.”

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