Credit Unions and Small Banks Lead in Customer Satisfaction

For the 2010 Bank & Credit Union Satisfaction Survey: Customer Experience with Branch and Call Center Representatives, Prime Performance surveyed 6,115 U.S. credit union and bank customers who had recently completed a teller transaction, opened a new account at a branch or contacted a call center representative. We divided the results into 6 groups, generally based on the size of the institutions. Our groups consisted of Credit Unions, Small Banks with less than 300 branches, Large Banks with 300 to 4,000 branches and the three largest banks (in terms of number of branches): Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Overall Satisfaction & Likely to Recommend

The results are clear; customer satisfaction is highest at Credit Unions and Small Banks. Overall, 80% of customers were satisfied, and only 3% were dissatisfied with their most recent transaction (the remaining 17% were indifferent). 88% of customers at Credit Unions and Small Banks were satisfied with the service they received; only 1% of Credit Union and 2% of Small Bank customers were dissatisfied. Large Banks and Wells Fargo both ranked in the middle with 78% of customers satisfied and 4% dissatisfied. 74% of Bank of America customers were satisfied, with 4% dissatisfied. At Chase, 73% were satisfied (7% below the industry average), and 6% were dissatisfied. When asked how likely they are to recommend their bank to friends, Credit Unions were the clear winner with 85% of their members claiming they are likely to recommend them, while only 62% of Chase customers are likely to make a recommendation.

While the Large Banks and Mega Banks (Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) are expected to have all the financial products that consumers need, Small Banks and Credit Unions rate the highest on meeting the needs of their customers. 89% of Credit Union and 90% of Small Bank customers felt that the representative was effective at meeting their needs, while only 76% of Chase and 75% of Bank of America customers felt the same. This shows that customers look beyond products and services and take into account how they are treated in their banking relationship.

Customer Loyalty

Because Credit Union and Small Bank customers are the most satisfied, they are more loyal. Only 7% of Credit Union members and 8% of Small Bank customers said they were likely to switch banks in the next 12 months. 16% of Large Bank customers said they are likely to switch and 17% of Wells Fargo customers. 19% of Chase and Bank of America customers said they were likely to switch banks.

While Large Banks and the Mega-Banks have the lowest customer satisfaction, they still appeal to a segment of consumers. When customers were asked “if you had to switch banks, please rank the following in order of preference: Credit Union, Local Community Bank, Regional Bank, Large National Bank”, 26% chose a Large National Bank. 38% of customers selected a Credit Union, 25% selected a Local Community Bank, and only 11% selected a Regional Bank. Many regional banks try to offer their customers the best of both worlds—the resources of the larger banks and the service and local decision making of a community bank. In reality, most consumers see the Regional Banks as not having the products and convenience of the larger banks and falling short of the community bank feel. While there are certainly some exceptions to this, being stuck in the middle is a challenging position.

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