Latest Forrester research released: The Impact of Poor Web Site Performance in Financial Services

Akamai Technologies commissioned Forrester Consulting in the Autumn of 2009, to help understand the state of the Web related to financial services along with the impact of Web site performance on both the servicing and the sales of financial products.

Based on this  Forrester consulting study of 621 US consumers who bank or trade online, Forrester’s study yielded these key findings:

The Web channel is vital to an ever-growing percentage of users. The importance of the Web channel for financial services has been growing for years. As of 2009, 57% of online US adults bank online, and 36% of online US adults who have an investment account invest online.

Even more important, 29% of online bankers and 27% of online brokers access their accounts on a daily basis — a segment we call Power Users. These frequent users are less costly for banks to service and drive more direct revenue for brokerage firms. Web site users have high expectations for Web site availability and page load speed. Web user expectations grow as the importance of the Web in their lives grows. Seventy-five percent of online bankers and brokers expect 99% Web site availability or higher.

Additionally, 56% of online bankers and brokers expect Web pages to load in 2 seconds or less; this is far above the 47% of consumers who are just shopping online.1 Poor Web site performance leads to dissatisfaction more often than any other factor. Sixty-four percent of online US bankers and brokers have had a dissatisfying experience when servicing their accounts. Web performance is far and away the biggest reason for this dissatisfaction. Fifty-four percent of online bankers and 33% of online brokers who have had a dissatisfying experience said that a Web site that crashed, froze, or was unavailable was the primary source of their dissatisfaction. The consequences for financial service firms with underperforming sites are higher channel costs, lost sales, and a decrease in user willingness to recommend. The impact of poor Web site performance is large.

Fifty percent of online brokers who are conducting a transaction would use the phone or branch if they could not conduct their transactions online. Twenty-nine percent of online US adults researching a financial product would meanwhile go to a competitor’s site if they were unable to efficiently view content at a financial service Web site. The ultimate effect of poor performance is a decrease in willingness to recommend a firm, with 48% of online bankers and brokers saying that poor performance had an impact or significant impact on their likeliness to recommend a firm’s services to a friend or family member.

You can sign up via Akamai to read the full report here.


Web Site Performance Matters

Some interesting information gathered from an archived Akamai white paper still highly relevant today….

Let’s assume someone has ten minutes to spend at your Web site: some are able to access 10+ pages, while some can’t stand the wait and give up after two requests. If page speed were to be increased by as little as five times, these visitors would have the ability to view 50+ pages during the same short session, ensuring a better user experience—critical to your efforts to acquire and retain customers and distributors.

Increasing page performance reduces the likelihood of bailout, boosts the likelihood of multiple page views and purchases, increases cross-sell conversion opportunities and leaves impressions that are worthy of return visits. On the Web, the experience is the brand, and you want to offer the best one possible.

There is ample reason to care about Web site performance. Consider the following:

Online revenues are expected to rise, but sites must be high-performing to capture sales.
• A 50% degradation in performance leads to a 25% reduction in conversions —Jupiter Research
• Online consumer sales will grow to $155.6 billion by 2005 —eMarketer
• Of online shoppers surveyed, 51% percent stated site performance/speed as having an influence
on their buying behavior —Vividence
• 92% percent of online consumers use the Internet to shop and/or purchase online
—The NPD Group Inc.

More and more offline purchases are being influenced by online activity.

70%+ of consumers do pre-purchase research on the Web —Forrester Research
• Consumers currently spend approximately $5 off-line for every $1 they spend online as a direct
result of online research —Jupiter Research
• The second most popular activity online is searching for product or service information.
—US Department of Commerce
• ”Multichannel retailers reported that 46% of their online customers also purchase offline, and
conversely, 17% of their offline customers purchase online. In addition to direct online sales, these
retailers reported that the Web influences 15% of their offline sales.” —Shop.org
Customer acquisition and loyalty are just as important online as off.
• 28% of Web users do not return to a company’s Web site if it does not perform sufficiently well,
and a further 6% do not even go to the affiliated retail store anymore. —Boston Consulting Group
• Repeat customers spend 67% more and are more profitable. —Bain & Company
• When companies identify and respond to loyal customers, they reduce their customer acquisition
costs by 27%. —Jupiter Research
• On average, a highly influential Internet user relates a positive experience to 11 people, but a
negative experience to 17 people, a 55% difference. —Burson-Marsteller and Roper Starch Worldwide
• It costs 3- to 5-times more in marketing costs to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. —Davidow and Uttal
• A 5% increase in customer retention yields an increase in profits between 25%-100%. —Bain & Company
The performance of your company’s Web site can directly impact brand perception and loyalty.
• Nearly 50% of Internet users have stopped using a preferred site for some amount of time because of slow download times and poor customer experience. —Jupiter Research
• “Many consumers who become frustrated with an online site… blame the retailer, not the Internet.” —Boston Consulting Group
• “Organizations must ensure that the Web site is engineered to deliver the best possible experience
for each customer. Without this quality of experience, the Web site can damage the overall brand
image of the company.” —META Group

There is a clear link between Web site performance and site abandonment.

• When a site experiences an outage, 9% of online customers permanently abandon the site, and 48% of site users establish a relationship with a competitor. —Jupiter Research
• There is a nearly 50% relationship between performance and site abandonment— i.e., a 10% decrease in site leads to a 5% increase in site abandonment. —Zona
• Not only does page performance determine whether or not visitors hang out at given sites, it directly influences their attitudes towards returning—58% note performance as a key determinant as to whether they’ll visit again. —Forrester Research