American consumers more satisfied with banks, credit unions

American Customer Satisfaction Index ACSIAn annual report released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that despite an increase in bank fees, customer satisfaction with both banks and credit unions is on the rise.

Over the past year, bank fees have risen by between two and three percent, marking the 15th consecutive year of increases, though consumers appear to have responded little to the fee increases.

“In part, this is because a fair number of consumers apparently have learned how to avoid the fees by exclusively using their own bank’s ATMs and maintaining sufficiently large account balances,” the report said.

Overall customer satisfaction with retail banking rose 1.3 percent to reach pre-2008 levels. Customer satisfaction levels have increased at all large banks, but regional and community banks reported the highest increase in satisfaction of five percent.

Customer satisfaction for JPMorgan Chase rose three percent, while Citigroup saw a six percent jump in customer satisfaction levels. Bank of America customers reported a five percent increase in satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction at credit unions, however, remains higher than that at banks. In the third quarter, credit union customer satisfaction rose 3.7 percent overall. Nearly 75 percent of all credit unions offer free checking, compared to one-third of banks, and they generally offer lower interest rates on revolving credit lines and loans.

“Just as small banks outperform large banks in customer satisfaction because of fewer fees and more personalized service, credit unions also leverage smaller size and local accent,” the report said. “As smaller, local institutions, credit unions still face challenges in providing services on the scale of national banks.”

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