SOURCE: Varolii


December 01, 2010 09:00 ET

Varolii Study: Retail Banking Industry Struggles to Adapt to Changing Consumer Demands and Technologies

Majority of Companies Do Not Take Customer Preferences Into Account; Fail to Utilize Text Messaging and Social Media to Reach Customers

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - December 1, 2010) - A recent survey of the retail banking industry and customer communication trends shows that the majority of companies continue to use outdated methods for customer outreach and fail to take customer preferences into account. The 2010 Retail Banking Study revealed that one in three companies do not even communicate with their customers via their mobile number. The study was commissioned by Varolii Corporation, the market and technology leader in proactive outbound communications.

More than 450 retail banking executives surveyed nationwide responded to a variety of questions about their communications strategies and challenges they face. Despite more consumers turning to mobile devices as their primary communications channel, the survey revealed most companies are not adjusting their strategies to reach customers in this way. In fact, nearly half of the companies surveyed had no idea how many of their contact numbers were mobile phones.

Outdated Customer Communication Methods Hindering Companies
Communications challenges plague the industry even though less expensive and more effective communication methods are emerging that can generate significant results for the retail banking companies that adopt them. When asked what the top customer communication methods were for their organization, virtually all respondents report using traditional methods such as direct mail or manual phone calls to reach customers.

  • Companies still rely on direct mail and manual phone calls. When asked what was the single most frequently used method to reach customers, respondents clearly use direct mail (29 percent) and manual phone calls (22 percent) most often.
  • Cost-effective methods like automation and text messaging are taking a backseat. Only one percent of companies are using automated phone communications as the top method to reach customers. Further, none of the respondents chose SMS text or online chat as the top methods.
  • Social media is not in the game. Despite nationwide growth in the popularity of social media for business purposes, more than half of companies are not currently leveraging social media as a way to communicate with customers. And, only 35 percent say they plan to utilize social media in the future.
  • Businesses not taking full advantage of mobile options. Of those that do communicate with customers on their mobile numbers, nearly 70 percent still use agents to dial the numbers manually. Additionally, only 16 percent are utilizing text messages to communicate with mobile customers.

Customer Experience is a Priority, but Majority Fail to Adapt to Customer Preferences
While more than 70 percent of organizations say that improving the customer experience is very important and an ongoing initiative within the company, the majority of companies are not adapting their communications strategies based on customer preferences. More than 50 percent of organizations do not capture customer preferences data -- a key way to adapt strategies to improve the customer experience. And, of those that do, less than half apply data such as preferred language (42 percent), preferred time of day (46 percent) and customer behavior (41 percent) to their outbound communications strategies.

"By not leveraging available customer data, companies lose the opportunity to create a highly personalized experience for each customer and that may hinder overall outcomes of their interactions," said Chris Carlisle, senior technical account manager at Varolii Corporation. "With the evolution of new technologies, customer expectations are constantly changing. Consumers require instant engagement and for communications to be highly personalized in order to reach them effectively."

Varolii is the recognized leader in helping companies reach consumers through the use of smart, automated communications. Varolii sends more than two million communications per day to a broad range of clients and industries, including two of the three largest banks and five of the ten largest health plans. More than 380 companies use Varolii to communicate with customers using one-to-one communications strategically blended over multiple channels to drive greater response rates and enhanced consumer satisfaction. At the heart of the platform is Varolii ID™, which automatically analyzes each recipient's past responses to customize future messages and contact strategy to deliver maximum results and customer satisfaction.

By contacting customers with intelligent and personalized automated messages via voice, text and email, retail banking companies can more effectively reach customers with important messages about things like changes to their accounts, credit fraud alerts, past-due accounts, etc., while reducing costs and strain on contact center resources to field incoming calls from customers. And, with Varolii ID, companies 'learn' and can adapt communications based on individual consumer preferences and interactions to deliver the right messages through the right communication channel (i.e. email, phone or text message) to the right person at the right time.

Study Methodology
The 2010 Retail Banking Survey was conducted online between September 15 and October 4 and was jointly developed by Varolii, SourceMedia and Lodestar. Respondents consisted of American Banker, Bank Technology News, and US Banker subscribers and contacts from mid-sized to large retail banking and consumer lending organizations. The results are based on responses from more than 450 participants who responded to 24 questions.

About Varolii Corporation
Varolii is the market and technology leader in smart, automated communications. Its on-demand communication solutions help organizations easily and effectively reach and interact with large numbers of customers and employees, reducing operational costs and improving service. Varolii provides the industry's only cross-channel communications technology, which blends voice, SMS and email into a single conversation and provides recipients with multiple options to take action. At the heart of the on-demand platform is Varolii ID™, which automatically analyzes each recipient's past responses to personalize future communications. With Varolii, organizations can execute true 1-to-1 communication on a large scale, achieving better results from fewer notifications. More than 380 companies trust Varolii to send over four million communications every business day. For more information, visit

Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Robin Rees
    Varolii Corporation
    206-902-3944 (office)
    206-293-2910 (mobile)
    Email Contact

    Jessica Kendall
    Edelman PR
    206-268-2231 (office)
    210-859-6971 (mobile)
    Email Contact