How good is customer support within FX retail brokers? FinanceFeeds finds out
It has become widely acknowledged over recent years that retail FX traders have become increasingly demanding, and that the understanding of the complex and sophisticated methodology behind today’s retail FX trading environmnets has increased dramatically. With such expectations from retail FX traders, retail FX brokerages are constantly engaged in making extra efforts in order to […]
It has become widely acknowledged over recent years that retail FX traders have become increasingly demanding, and that the understanding of the complex and sophisticated methodology behind today’s retail FX trading environmnets has increased dramatically.
With such expectations from retail FX traders, retail FX brokerages are constantly engaged in making extra efforts in order to ensure client retention and acquisition continues and that their businesses are future-proofed.
Customer support must not be disregarded in a growingly competitive industry, with a new retail broker just around the corner waiting for an opportunity to onboard the clients of a similar broker as every company vies for market share.
A continual reduction in spreads which has become almost raw in many cases, and the fact that, according to FinanceFeeds research, over 1,230 retail brokers compete in attracting and engaging traders that use the MetaTrader 4 platform, quality customer support is one of the last service aspects within the brokerage business that can really be a change maker or a deal breaker in the quest to onboard clients and retain them.
In that sense, FinanceFeeds, after noticing how difficult it can often be getting through to someone inside a brokerage; decided to conduct consumer research at random. Contacting customer service departments and call centers of several retail brokerages in order to find out how the industry in general is performing with regards to customer engagement and supporting those upon who their livelihood depends.
Editors note: A very important point to note is that these experiences do not constitute an attempt to evaluate thoroughly the quality of the customer support service in the FX industry, and are by no means to be regarded as a future reference for traders’ opinions of these particular brokers. An opinion should not be based on one experience only, but some points made in the article are could be borne in mind by market participants, both new and established, in order to maximize the method by which customer enquiries are handled.
FinanceFeeds hopes that these examples can be used as a measure of assessment across the industry, and to help advance the way in which companies interact with their valued customers.
During this call, I presented a scenario in which I was making a complaint about an issue with a demo account. After a quick chat, the representative acknowledged that I am Portuguese, and I was quickly redirected to the relevent sales team, responsible for the management of demo accounts, located in Uruguay, where Portuguese and Spanish speaking clients are served. I was asked to make a screen print of my issue and send it by email so that the company could better evaluate the problem. It was a quick and efficient call, and the staff understood me well, transferred me to the correct department.
I then made a call to CMC Markets, where I simulated a scenario in which I was having technical issues with the company’s proprietary platform. Surprisingly, or not, the responder swiftly explained and instructed me on how to surpass all my problems. Clearly well trained, in no time I was left with nothing more to say besides “thank you”.
My contact with Easy Forex involved using the online chat facility because there is no customer support telephone number displayed on the company’s website, only a toll-free number for the Asia Pacific dealing room. A client can call directly to the general line and be forwarded to customer support, or ask to be called back by the account manager once the client enters the client user ID in the live chat window. In roughly one minute I was contacted by return in order to resolve the matter. A direct call to the office can also be successful, as they transfer it to the account manager but in this case, the live chat function was effective.
As with Easy Forex, FXPRIMUS has adopted the modern method of using an online chat facility for clients to contact customer service agents.
Through the chat window I asked to be contacted by phone, but I was required to fill a form with full name, email ID, phone number, country, deposit amount, preferred contact method/local time and existing username/userID (if any). I filled it and asked to be contacted “now”, but standard policy is to contact within 24 business hours.
The company also uses telephone customer service, which fared very well indeed. Contrasting to the experience with the online chat facility, when I contacted the general customer service line directly and asked for customer support, I was forwarded to a well trained professional that solved all my imaginary issues with very clear language and knowledge.
FXPRO called quickly and professionally when asked to do so via the company’s live chat service. However, they have a literally useless “get a call” button. A click on it opens a blank window in any browser. It is an issue FxPro should address urgently as this is a red herring and the service would be far better without the button. On a very positive note, the firm has an impressive multilingual Customer Service Department at a trader’s disposal 24/5, and toll free.
Contacting Markets.com directly by telephone cost me only 3 minutes in waiting time before being taken care of by a professional. The provision of a multilingual customer support service comes in handy in this international industry, however, similar to the multilingual service offered by SaxoBank and CMC Markets, the call is not toll free.
Toll free calls to customer support desks are also offered by Hotforex, FXTM and Forex.com. Hotforex offers free support for direct calls to eleven different international numbers. FXTM allows toll free calls for five numbers only, those being Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, India and France. Forex.com, GAIN Capital’s retail division, provides a toll free call from the company’s native New Jersey at 06:30 local time, 24 hours a day. All three brokers were very professional and answered quickly.
During this contact, I asked, via chat, to be called to by a customer support professional. The answer was “I am sorry all our agent on phone duty are engaged now. Would you mind if I assist you via live chat?” After insisting, I was contacted by the Oanda Asia Pacific division and all went smoothly from then on and I received very high quality service indeed.
What about the tests not listed here?
At first glance, the randomly selected brokerages got the job done and our fictitious technical problem was solved. Kudos to those that participated, albeit unknowingly. We did, however; conduct further tests (not listed above) and in order to avoid making this article a place to name and shame, we decided to leave out the really poor performers. What we would like to point out; there were many a well known brokerages on the list of… non performers.
One consistent thing we noticed is the lack of any sort of “virtual secretary” when a call is made often just ringing, a beep and you realise you are now leaving a voicemail heavy breathing and all. The worse and most frustrating thing, if one were a client with an issue; is the ring, a pause of sorts, then a completely different ring (a new tempo) suggesting the caller is now being transferred only to get a computerised message “please try again later”.
Additionally, there is little value in ringing a number, being put through to an extension when the main reception desk can see that the person is not online and have it go to voicemail after three rings. Good old fashioned support suggests that at that point, the call should reroute back to the main reception in the case that someone else may be able to assist.
Test test test test and then some.
We strongly believe that if you are serious about customer service, you should test regularly. This is the quickest and easiest way to improve on your own customer experience. Whilst there are companies that provide “mystery shopping” and feedback, this field has evolved greatly over the past few years. Today, you can test everything from a sales call, time-to-first-call times, user experience testing, as well as testing the limits of your customer service representatives by providing them with the customer from “hell” experience.
Is this important? Totally. Whilst a fair amount of brokerages came up trumps, there are a large portion that have not. As a customer (pre and post sale) this is one of the most important things and often becomes a major value proposition for a firm outweighing price.
With the article, we are hoping to raise awareness regarding customer service in the FX industry, particularly in the retail broker experience, and contribute to the improvement in this critical aspect of the business model within all FX industry participants.
FinanceFeeds remains committed to conducting investigations in order to ensure that we engage with the industry to continue to uphold high standards.