Vanguard Highest in Customer Loyalty and Most Likely to be Recommended

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.

Likely to Recommend
Vanguard leads all firms with 82% of clients likely to recommend the firm and 2% unlikely; resulting in a net score of 80% (net score is the percent of clients responding with a 6 or 7, minus clients responding with a 1, 2, or 3). Charles Schwab ranks second with a net score of 76% and Fidelity third at 74%, well above the industry average of 68%.


Likely to Continue
Vanguard has the most loyal clients. Ninety-one percent of Vanguard’s clients say they are likely to continue using the firm over the next twelve months and 2% say they are unlikely to do so, resulting in a net score of 90%. T. Rowe Price and Fidelity followed in the rankings with a net score of 84%, compared to an industry average of 80%.

Wait Time
When a client has an unacceptable wait time to speak with a live representative, it becomes challenging (but not impossible) to satisfy the client. Ninety-four percent of clients found their wait time acceptable while 5% did not. When clients thought the wait time was acceptable, 77% were satisfied with the overall service they received during the call and 2% were dissatisfied with the service. By contrast, when they did not think the wait time was acceptable, only 29% were satisfied with the overall service and 23% were dissatisfied. Fidelity scored highest in wait time at 96%, compared to an industry average of 94%.

Explaining Things in a Way that was Easy to Understand
Once the representative listens carefully and asks questions, it is important that they present information to the client in a way that is easy to understand. Seventy-three percent of clients believe the representative did a good job of this, scoring them a 6 or 7, 23% were somewhat pleased, rating them a 4 or 5 and 5% thought the representative did a poor job of explaining things and gave them a 1, 2 or 3. For clients who felt the representative did a good job explaining things, the Net Satisfaction Score for the call was 88%, but when they felt things were not explained well, the score dropped over 100 points to -28%. Fidelity had the highest net score on this question, 75%, compared to an industry average of 68%.

Inquiry Resolved During this Contact
It is tough to satisfy a client when their inquiry is not resolved to their satisfaction. Ninety-three percent of clients responded that their inquiry was resolved to their satisfaction during their most recent contact with the call center representative. Seventy-nine percent of these clients were satisfied with the overall service they received during the call and only 1% were dissatisfied, resulting in a Net Satisfaction Score of 78%. Of the 6% who felt their inquiry was not resolved, only 13% were still satisfied with the service they received and 40% were dissatisfied. Vanguard led all firms with 97% of clients stating their inquiry was resolved satisfactorily compared to an industry average of 93%. Ranking second is T. Rowe Price at 96% and third is E*TRADE at 95%.

A review of data suggests investment 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. 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.

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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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