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Survey CUs still at top in customer satisfaction
DENVER (12/8/11)--Credit unions still score higher in member/customer satisfaction when compared with the banking industry overall average and with big U.S. bank customers, according to a national survey.

Members/customers said they are more satisfied with credit union and banks, and less likely to switch banks than in 2010, according to the 2011 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey released Tuesday by Prime Performance, which advises credit unions and banks on improving the client experience.

Credit union members rate their overall satisfaction with a net score of 89%, according to the survey. The comparable score for large banks (300 to 4,000 branches) is 80%, and for small banks (banks with less than 300 branches) is 88%. The industry average is 82%. Falling below that were: Bank of America, 73%; Wells Fargo, 75%; and Chase, 79%.

The survey was conducted in August and September 2011--well before big banks' plans to implement monthly debit card fees spawned Bank Transfer Day and consumer backlash. The survey asked questions of more than 8,000 members/customers who had recently been assisted by a representative at a credit union, small bank, large bank or one of the three mega-banks: Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo.

A net satisfaction score is the percentage of satisfied members/customers, minus the percentage of dissatisfied ones. A score of 100% is perfect.

The industry average net satisfaction score increased 5% from 2010. Chase and large banks increased faster than the industry rate, at 12% and 6%, respectively. Increasing slower than the industry rate were Bank of America at 3%. Credit unions, small banks and Wells Fargo, all increased 2%.

The survey also showed that some banks, particularly the mega-banks, have not completely won back the loyalty of their customers. Many consumers at big banks believe their bankers may put institutional interests ahead of customers, have concerns about fees, and are not ready to refer friends and family to do business with them, said the research firm.

Banks have made significant progress in creating a more satisfying experience, mainly with younger customers, said Jim S. Miller, president of Prime Performance. "Small banks have pulled even with credit unions among Gen Y and Gen X customers, while credit unions have increased satisfaction among older members.

"Customers [at large banks] told us they experience more problems or had more complaints with the big banks and are not sure the banks are acting in their customers' best interest particularly when it comes to fees," Miller said.

The survey also noted that some credit unions and banks are slipping in some key behaviors that make members/customers feel better about their banking experience, the survey said. Using the customer's name dropped by 5%, and thanking the customer fell by 3% from 2010.

"While credit unions and community banks enjoy high satisfaction and customer loyalty, their larger competitors are closing the gap, especially with younger customers," Miller said. "If small banks and credit unions don't live up to customer expectations and provide a more personalized service, they run the risk of losing their service advantage."

Other survey findings included:

  • Members/customers believe credit unions have the most competitive fees, and Bank of America the least competitive.
  • Credit union members and small bank customers are least likely to experience problems or complaints, while the most occur at Bank of America.
  • Members at credit unions and customers at small banks are more apt to believe employees enjoy their jobs than customers at big banks and mega-banks. Bank of America customers are the youngest, with an average age of 41.2 years (excluding minors). Small banks serve the oldest customer base, with an average age of 47.1 years.


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