Vanguard Leads in Client Satisfaction and Loyalty; Scottrade Highest in Satisfaction with Less Affluent Clients

Vanguard leads other major investment call centers in client satisfaction according to the Prime Performance 2012 Investment Call Center Satisfaction Survey.

Vanguard clients give the firm a Net Satisfaction Score of 81 percent, followed by Scottrade, 78 percent and Fidelity Investments, 77 percent. The average Net Satisfaction Score for the ten firms included in the survey is 67 percent. Vanguard's 2012 Net Satisfaction Score, increased by 5 percent from 2011. Vanguard and Fidelity are the only firms scoring higher in 2012, 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, while the industry average Net Satisfaction Score dropped by 3 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 survey, conducted in December 2011, polled 2,543 clients of ten major investment firms who spoke to a call center representative with the past month. The ten investment firms include; Charles Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity Investments, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, Vanguard and Wells Fargo.

In addition to having the highest satisfaction, Vanguard clients are the most likely to continue using the firm over the next 12 months. Eighty-six percent of Vanguard clients say they are likely to continue with the firm, and only 3 percent say they are unlikely, resulting in a net score of 84 percent. Vanguard is followed by Charles Schwab and Scottrade, both with a net score of 81 percent. The industry average is 71 percent. Vanguard is also most likely to be recommended by clients, with 82 percent saying they are likely to recommend the firm and 4 percent unlikely, resulting in a net score of 78 percent. Scottrade also has a net score of 78 percent, with 80 percent of clients likely to recommend the firm and 3 percent unlikely.

Scottrade's clients rated the firm highest for doing what is in their client's best interest. Seventy-two percent of Scottrade's clients believe they act in their client's best interest and only 5 percent believe they act more in the firm's best interest, resulting in a net score of 66 percent. Vanguard and Fidelity both have the next highest net score of 60 percent, well above the industry average of 50 percent. Scottrade is also the customer satisfaction leader among less affluent investors. Scottrade receives the highest Net Satisfaction Scores among households with household income less than $75,000 per year and among households with a net worth less than $500,000.

Vanguard scores high in satisfaction and loyalty because they are able to meet their clients' transactional and emotional needs. Their clients say Vanguard representatives are both friendly and knowledgeable. They ask questions about client's financial needs, handle most inquiries in one contact, value their client's time, minimize the effort required by their clients and thank their clients for their business. Operational efficiency is no longer sufficient to create a competitive advantage. Firms need to take the right amount of time with each client to build a trusting relationship. Clients will remember how the representative made them feel long after they have forgotten the reason for their call.

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