Customer Satisfaction with Banks and Credit Unions Increases in 2011

Customers claim they are more satisfied with banks and credit unions and less likely to switch banks than in 2010 according to the Prime Performance 2011 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey released today.

Based on a recent interaction with a representative, credit union customers rate their overall satisfaction a net score of 89 percent. The comparable score for small banks (banks with less than 300 branches) is 88 percent and for large banks (300 to 4,000 branches) it is 80 percent. The industry average is 82 percent. Falling below that were: Bank of America, 73; Wells Fargo, 75 percent; and Chase, 79 percent.

A net satisfaction score is the percent of satisfied customers minus the percent of dissatisfied ones. A score of 100 percent is perfect.

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

While satisfaction is on the rise, 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.

These findings and others come from the Prime Performance 2011 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey. This survey was conducted in August and September 2011 with more than 8,000 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.

Contrary to most press reports, banks have made significant progress in creating a more satisfying experience, mainly with younger customers. Small banks have pulled even with credit unions among Gen Y and Gen X customers, while credit unions have increased satisfaction among older members. Large banks and Chase had the greatest increases in satisfaction but still have work to do to win back their customers' trust. Customers told us they experience more problems or had more complaints with the big banks and are not sure the banks are acting in their customer's best interest particularly when it comes to fees.

While customer satisfaction is improving, banks and credit unions are slipping in some key behaviors that make customers feel better about their banking experience. Using the customer's name dropped by 5% and thanking the customer fell by 3% from 2010. Representatives at Wells Fargo are most likely to use their customer's name and least likely at Chase. Customers are most likely to receive a thanks at Wells Fargo and least likely at Bank of America. While known for their personalized, friendly service, credit unions and small banks are not better than the industry average at thanking and using their customer's name.

While credit unions and community banks enjoy high satisfaction and customer loyalty, their larger competitors are closing the gap, especially with younger customers. 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 interesting survey findings included:

• Chase had the greatest increase in satisfaction overall and among Gen Y and Boomers and Pre-Boomers. Chase also showed the greatest improvement in likely to recommend and likely to switch. In spite of the improvement, Chase remains below the industry average in these categories.

• Customers believe credit unions have the most competitive fees while Bank of America the least competitive.

• Credit union and small bank customers are least likely to experience problems or complaints and the most occur at Bank of America.

• Customers at small banks and credit unions 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.

Send an email to Jim S Miller, the author of this post, at

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