T. Rowe Price Leads in Investment Call Center Client Satisfaction

During December 2010 and January 2011, Prime Performance surveyed 2,359 clients who had recently spoken with a call center representative at one of nine major investment firms. The firms include: E*Trade, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Schwab, T. Rowe Price, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard and Wells Fargo/Wachovia.

Overall Satisfaction

Seventy-four percent of clients are satisfied with the service they received on their recent interaction with a call center representative at an investment firm, while 4% are dissatisfied, resulting in a Net Satisfaction Score of 71%. The nine major investment firms were ranked based on their clients’ responses to “Overall, how satisfied are you with the service you received?” on their most recent interaction with a call center representative. Firms were measured based on their Net Satisfaction Score, the percent of satisfied clients minus the percent of dissatisfied clients. T. Rowe Price topped all ranked firms with a Net Satisfaction Score of 80%. Eighty-one percent of T. Rowe Price clients were satisfied with the service they received and 1% were dissatisfied (the remaining 19% were neutral, or indifferent, about their experience). Trailing T. Rowe Price were Charles Schwab with a Net Satisfaction Score of 77% and Vanguard at 76%.



Listening and Correctly Understanding Needs

While 74% of clients rated the representative high (6 or 7) on listening and correctly understanding their needs, 5% rated the representative very low (1, 2 or 3). When the representative was rated a 6 or 7, the Net Satisfaction Score was 88%. Net Satisfaction dropped to 34% when the representative was rated a 4 or 5, and -27% when rated a 1, 2 or 3. T. Rowe Price led all firms with a net score (percent of 6 and 7 ratings, less percent of 1, 2 and 3 ratings) for listening of 79%, followed by Charles Schwab at 76%, compared to the industry average of 69%.

Client Effort

The amount of effort required by clients to handle their request has a significant influence on satisfaction. Ninety-eight percent of clients who believe the amount of effort was “very low” were satisfied with the overall level of service they received and only 1% was dissatisfied, resulting in a Net Satisfaction Score of 97% for this group.

Even requiring clients to expend a “moderate” level of effort causes the Net Satisfaction Score to drop to 58%. Interestingly, the Net Satisfaction Score is the same, 46%, for clients who said their effort was “high” or “very high”, but the percent of satisfied and dissatisfied clients is very different. Fifty-three percent of clients were satisfied with their service when the level of effort was “high” and 7% dissatisfied. A surprising 66% of clients who said their effort was “very high” were still satisfied with their service, but 21% were dissatisfied, three times as many as those in the “high” effort group. T. Rowe Price had the highest client effort score (percent of clients claiming their effort was “low” or “very low” minus the percent of “high” and “very high” responses) of 50%, followed by Schwab, 44% and Vanguard at 43%. These are also the same three firms who lead in overall satisfaction and in the same order, showing the importance of client effort.


Call centers should focus on the client service basics. First call resolution is vital, as is minimizing the effort required by clients and managing wait time. Representatives need to focus on listening to their customers, asking appropriate questions and explaining things in a way that is easy to understand. Other simple behaviors such as using the client’s name, thanking the client, valuing the client’s time and showing a genuine interest in helping the client drive client satisfaction, loyalty and retention. The institutions which do not manage the basic, and controllable, behaviors will see their clients looking for service elsewhere. While quickly and accurately handling a transaction is crucial, most investment firms excel at this and it does not lead to a competitive advantage. Clients are also looking for a positive emotional experience and are disappointed when their emotional needs are not met. 

Send an email to Jim S Miller, the author of this post, at jim.miller@primeperformance.net.

A detailed report summarizing the results from the Prime Performance 2011 Investment Call Center Satisfaction Survey is available for $3,995.  Click here to review the table of contents from this 109-page detailed report. 

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