Credit Unions Blow Big Banks Away In Customer Satisfaction Survey

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[credit provider=”Daniel Goodman / Business Insider”]

Credit unions scored record levels of customer satisfaction in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index report, tripling their gain over banks in just a year. Offering more personalised services and fewer fees, credit unions have been working overtime to woo disgruntled bank customers ever since BoA and Chase sparked protests in the fall over plans to charge users a $5 debit fee.

Looks like it’s working. The industry’s score skyrocketed nearly 9 per cent to 87 points out of 100–the highest level any industry has ever scored on the ACSI. 

“Banks are facing difficult times on multiple fronts: Profits are being squeezed, regulators are more demanding, foreclosures remain problematic, and consumers are fighting back on fees,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI founder. “On top of all this, many banks are losing customers, including defections prompted by grassroots efforts like the recent Bank Transfer Day.”

Even though October’s Bank Transfer Day wasn’t as successful as initially reported, the banking sector still lost more than 214,000 customers and millions of dollars to their credit union competitors. 

It’s too early to tell just how much business banks have lost to smaller competitors, but the ACSI’s report clearly reflects a shift in consumer sentiment. 

Overall, banks’ satisfaction rates dropped 1.3 per cent to 75 in areas of checking, savings, and personal loans.  Wells Fargo came out on top for the eighth year in a row, but it’s 73-point score hasn’t budged since last year. 

Citibank and JPMorgan Chase were hot on its heels, with the former scoring 6 points higher than last year. 

“In the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, Citibank is shrinking as it closes branches and serves fewer customers,” the report says. “The customers who have chosen to stay are more satisfied.” 

Chase blew past Bank of America to nab the No. 3 spot, growing into its position as the largest U.S. bank in terms of assets. 

Oh, BoA. The fallen banking giant has struggled to bounce back from the PR nightmare that was Bank Transfer Day and having to backpedal from its widely panned $5 debit card fee. It fell to the bottom of the heap in satisfaction this year. 

“Because of their size, both small banks and credit unions benefit from an ability to provide more personalised service,” says Fornell. “The challenge for these smaller institutions will be how best to maintain high levels of customer service with minimal or no fees amid a major influx of new customers.”

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