November 2013: Private Site Message Centers

Banks vary in the private site messaging capabilities they offer and the way they present them. The best firms allow users to quickly and easily send a message to customer service, and also offer clients advanced features for managing received messages. In this Bank Monitor Report, we investigated each firm’s private site message center.
 
We focused on the following issues in this report:

  • Where are the private site message centers located within the private sites?
  • How are the message centers designed and what features do they offer clients?
  • How quickly do firms promise to respond to secure messages and are those deadlines consistently met? How are clients alerted to these responses?

A common feature within private account management sites, with 16 of the 17
Bank Monitor firms offering it, is the ability to send inquiries to the firm. One firm does not offer a message center, instead it directs users who have general, non-account related inquiries to the public site Email Us form. Of the remaining 16 firms, most offer a decent, but not exceptional, online messaging tool with capabilities that vary drastically. Currently, only half of the firms offer an all-encompassing message center where clients are able to send messages, receive messages and view past sent inquiries from a unified location. The other half of these firms either do not offer an outbox or do not place their compose message tool outside of the message center.

 

When a response from a CSR is available, firms can notify clients by sending a message to their primary email address stating that a new message is waiting for them in the message center (as done by 50% of the firms). The firms can also display a “new message” indicator on the private site homepage (as done by 81% of the firms). Six firms use both methods to alert clients of new messages. Of the firms that provide “new message” indicators on the private site homepage, 85% include the number of unread messages currently waiting in the inbox. Within the CSR message response itself, 88% include a copy of a client’s original message, while all but two firms allow users to reply directly to the CSR’s message (creating a messaging chain).

Additional key findings include:

  • Five firms do not offer an outbox/sent messages section.
  • Only one firm houses its message center within a pop-up browser window.
  • Four firms provide links to FAQ sections within the message center/compose tool.