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American consumers increasingly happy with financial institutions

180px-National_Bank_OamaruRecent data from ath Power Consulting revealed that American consumers are growing increasingly satisfied with their banks.

Consumer banking satisfaction rose by four percent to 41 percent over the past year. The largest increase in satisfaction comes from consumers who bank at credit unions, The Street reports.

Big banks, however, have made some headway in the last year. USAA Bank saw the highest rate of consumer satisfaction, and consumer satisfaction with JPMorgan Chase rose 14 percent since 2011.

A 2011 survey revealed similar gains, saying that the increase could be attributed to movement by consumers to smaller banks. ath Power CEO Frank Aloi said, however, that the increase in favorability ratings is primarily due to efforts by banks to refocus on customer service in the wake of bad press and negative consumer attitudes towards financial institutions after the recent financial crisis.

“Over the past few years, financial institutions have been driven to become more customer-centric in an effort to retain current customers and attract new prospects—a response to a tougher regulatory environment and added competition from non-traditional sources,” Aloi said, according to The Street. “Our research indicates that these initiatives are beginning to pay off. Even so, there are still numerous areas that show need for improvement, including proactive communication with customers and problem resolution.”

The ath Power survey revealed that 10 percent of American consumers switched banks within the last year, primarily because of increased fees on checking accounts, below-average customer service and accounting discrepancies.

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