Study: Consumer bank satisfaction increases

A recent study reveals that bank customer satisfaction in other areas of banking has offset dissatisfaction and consumer unhappiness with increased bank fees.

The annual J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study released on Thursday shows that customer satisfaction in retail banking increased by one point in 2012, resulting primarily from customer satisfaction with branch and ATM appearance, hours of operation and locations. The customer experience is measured by six factors, including facilities, fees, product offerings, problem resolution, account information and account activities.

Fee satisfaction declined significantly from 2011 and 2010, with monthly maintenance fees serving as the most negative impact on the category.

“The negative reaction to fees reflects customers’ irritation about paying for something they didn’t have to pay for in the past,” Michael Beird, the director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates, said. “It also reflects a lack of their complete understanding about what they’re getting for those fees. Customers understand why they’re being charged for ATM and debit card use but are not clear on what they’re getting for monthly maintenance fees, which drives the bigger drop in satisfaction with those fees.”

Overall customer satisfaction has also increased, with 76 percent of customers reporting that they are greeted by a bank representative when they enter the bank, an eight percent increase from 2010. Overall customer satisfaction with ATMs also increased.

The study found that satisfaction with mid-size banks increased over satisfaction with big banks. Satisfaction with regional banks, however, fell by one point.

“Big banks continue to lag the other banks in overall satisfaction, but they have made significant improvements in reducing the number of problems customers experience and in problem resolution, specifically resolving problems on first contact,” Beird said.

Mobile banking, though used by a smaller proportion of bank customers, also increased by six percent, with 11 percent of customers reporting use of a smartphone app to conduct banking activities.

“Despite the progression in mobile banking, it still represents a small proportion of customers who regularly rely on the technology,” Beird said. “What is interesting is that only one-half of customers using mobile banking report that they full understand the capability of the technology. This represents an opportunity for banks to educate their customers, increase usage and potentially deepen customer share of wallet.”

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