The internet is a cold place for customers, according to research carried out by the Henley Centre on behalf of AIT and Microsoft.

Financial services organisations are failing to create a relationship with their online customers, the survey says.

Only 16% of respondents, including those enthusiastic about internet use, believe financial services providers will use the net to get closer to customers.

More than three-quarters of respondents felt that regular contact between the company and its customers helped build a better relationship.

This was said to indicate that a tailored, proactive contact strategy may generate customer loyalty.

Most respondents would be happy to add personal information to achieve this – 86% said they felt that by knowing customers' needs and histories, financial services companies could build a better relationship with those customers.

The survey found that internet users could be divided into four groups: traditionalists, enthusiasts and those willing or not willing to pay for better service.

These groupings were found not to be stererotypical, and cut across normal socio-demographic lines.

All groups said they would prefer to deal with an established company rather than a new dotcom, and nearly two-thirds are nervous about doing business with internet only companies.

The telephone was regarded as an accepted channel for financial services, which indicates that, given time, the internet will become more widely accepted.