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American Express, Fleet, Discover Card Top Vividence Customer Experience Rankings; Study Shows Sharp Differences Between Best and Worst Credit Card Web Sites.

Business Editors

SAN MATEO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 19, 2003

Vividence, the leader in customer experience market research, today announced the results of the Vividence(R) Customer Experience (CE) Rankings(TM) for the Credit Card industry, an extensive study of leading credit card web sites.

The study is the first major research study of the credit card industry to examine online behaviors, in addition to consumer opinion. Vividence monitored 2,000 prospective customers as they interacted with leading credit card web sites and performed tasks such as applying for credit cards and exploring services offered online.

The study found American Express (1), Fleet (2), and Discover Card (3) provide the best overall online consumer experience as measured by the Vividence CE Rankings, an aggregate of site performance across hundreds of metrics. Vividence indices also ranked the credit card sites in terms of customer satisfaction, customer acquisition, online adoption and brand impact, among other areas.

This wave of the Vividence CE Rankings for the Credit Card industry focused on prospective customers. The next wave, to be announced in March, will examine the experience of current cardholders.

Marked Difference Between Leading and Lagging Credit Card Web Sites

The Vividence study revealed a large gap between the visitor experience at the best credit card web sites as compared to those ranked at the bottom of the index. The top five sites significantly outperformed the bottom five credit card sites across many key customer satisfaction metrics.

Web Site Major Driver for Consumers in Choosing a Credit Card

This fact should be of particular concern to lagging credit card companies, as web sites play a major role in determining which credit card a consumer will choose. The most important factors in customer acquisition are the credit card offer itself (including annual fee and interest rate) (1); ease of applying online (2); and site design and organization (3).

Fleet (1), MBNA (2) and American Express (3) performed the best in terms of potential to acquire new customers through their web sites, as measured by the Vividence Acquisition Impact Index.

Privacy and Security Are Major Consumer Concerns

Interestingly, consumers rank privacy and security issues more highly when considering credit card options than when considering banking or other financial services, primarily because of concerns about identity theft. Consumers are not only concerned with the technical aspects of privacy and security the study found, but also with how well a site communicates privacy policies.

Top Consumer Frustrations with Credit Card Web Sites

In fact, the study found that consumers' top frustrations overall, across all sites, are based on a lack of information. Consumers most often encountered unclear messaging about credit card approval (34%); a lack of online demonstrations (31%); and a lack of information about whether the credit card company shares personal information (29%).

Eager to Use Online Services, Users Still Shy Away from Poor Card Sites

These frustrations are keeping consumers from using online services at lagging web sites. Credit card firms have an enormous opportunity to lower the cost of serving customers through online services, yet the study found that up to half of the credit card sites actually deter adoption of online services. This is in sharp contrast to a similar study Vividence conducted of banking web sites, in which every site examined drove increased online adoption.

Still, consumers, the near majority (50%) of whom have 2 or more credit cards, are eager to use online credit card services to check account balances, receive billing statements and perform self-service tasks. More than 75% of users in the study reported accessing a credit card account online, and almost 50% use one of their credit card's sites at least once a week.

Chase (1), Fleet (2) and Discover Card (3) did the best job of driving online usage as measured by the Vividence Online Adoption Index.

Credit Card Sites Lag Behind Bank, Financial Services Sites

The study suggests that as consumers become more savvy Internet users, they judge credit card web sites not only against other card sites, but also against other financial services sites. Specifically, consumers also expect credit card sites to be as informative as banking sites and to include comparable information and services. Credit card sites consistently posed more frequent problems than their banking site counterparts. On average, consumers experienced a problem every 2 minutes on credit card sites.

The study demonstrated that these feelings and perceptions have strong transferal to perceptions of the overall brand. American Express (1), Discover Card (2), Fleet (3) built the most positive brand impression through exposure to their credit card sites, as measured by the Vividence Brand Impact Index.

Commentary on the Report

"Two thousand consumers have spoken, not only expressing their opinions, but in their actions," said Jeff Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer, Vividence. "They have resoundingly expressed a desire for a better online experience at credit card sites. They expect the same performance and quality from their credit card sites as they experience with their banking sites."

Vividence Customer Experience Rankings

Vividence Customer Experience Rankings are competitive benchmarking studies that allow companies to better understand their target customers and their competition on the Web. Vividence uses its proprietary software and a panel of thousands of real Internet users to gather the quantitative, qualitative and behavioral data that inform the reports.

Web sites evaluated for the online credit carding study included: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, First USA (Bank One), Fleet, MBNA and Wells Fargo.

About Vividence Corporation

Vividence is the leading provider of customer experience market research for the customer-driven enterprise. More than 250 customers, including Compaq, Dell, FedEx, General Motors, Macy's, Microsoft, Pfizer, USA Today and more than 150 of the Fortune 1000 use Vividence. For more information, please visit www.vividence.com.

Note: An abstract of the Vividence CE Rankings for the Credit Card industry is available at www.vividence.com.
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Date:Nov 19, 2003
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