NEW YORK (5/19/08)--Customer satisfaction with online banking sites has risen significantly the past five years, indicating that Americans are more pleased with online banking operations than with branches and call centers, according to a study. The 2008 ForeSee Results/Forbes.com Online Financial Services Study employs the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The study measures customer satisfaction with the online experience in three areas: Banks (defined as large banks, regional banks and credit unions), credit card companies, and investment services firms. Online banking websites scored 82 on ACSI's 100-point scale, up 12% or nine points from 73 in 2003. Credit card websites and investment websites each scored 75. Overall retail banking scored 78 when measured by ACSI last year. Three factors were cited in the study as why banking sites had higher customer satisfaction levels. They have made it easy for customers to access information and conduct transactions at their convenience; they have convinced large numbers of customers of the convenience, value and security of the online channel; and they know to use the web as a tool to build stronger customer relationships. The survey found that highly satisfied online banking customers are significantly more likely to purchase more services (31%), use the website as a primary channel (57%) and recommend their financial institution (54%) as its website (63%). The survey report noted several opportunities for financial institutions to raise customers' satisfaction and loyalty. They can: increase online bill payment; increase Web usage; increase online applications for loans and other activities; and increase use of online customer service features, such as demos and tutorials.