The majority of bank customers are now active online bankers, making the content and functionality offered on secure sites more important than ever. Forrester has just published research on which features are must-have on banks’ secure websites.

For my money, the most surprising high-value secure website feature is search (here we mean natural language keyword search that lets a user find what he or she is looking for on the site). In fact, our research revealed search to be one of the few bank website features that customers rate as above-average in importance, yet search is either nonexistent or poor on most banks’ secure sites. So we wrote an entire research report about it. Here are some highlights:

  • Online banking customers want search… We asked consumers who bank online to "rate how important it is to you that your bank's website has each of the following features" and asked them about 14 different features, including search. The majority of online bankers — 68% in the US and 63% in Canada — say search is important to have on their bank's secure website.
  • …but few banks offer search on their secure website…Just seven of the 25 largest banks in North America include search functionality on their secure websites.
  • …and many banks that do offer search offer just a so-so experience.Even those firms that do provide search offer "just OK" experiences for online banking users: Not a single secure website we reviewed in 2012 earned a perfect score on our search criteria. Moreover, among survey respondents who have used search on their banks' secure sites, search functionality earns a below-average score in terms of quality.

As such, we recommend digital teams at banks put secure website search on their roadmaps – or at least consider their options for the future. Again, you can read the full report here.

What do you think?

[note: this blog post was co-written by Rachel Roizen]