After experiencing a slight dip in 2010, credit unions are leading the pack when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
In its annual report released Dec. 13, ACSI said credit unions are at an all-time record high when it comes to overall satisfaction.
The report’s respondents said they are more satisfied than ever before with credit unions, as the industry’s score soars 8.7% to 87 on a scale of zero to 100, which is the highest score ever reached by any of ACSI’s 47 industries, the index showed. In just one year, credit unions have tripled their ACSI lead over banks.
Claes Fornell, ACSI’s founder, said while it is too early to quantify just how much business the big banks have lost to smaller competitors, the new ACSI data suggest credit unions and smaller banks now have become an even more attractive alternative for consumers.
“Banks are facing difficult times on multiple fronts. Profits are being squeezed, regulators are more demanding, foreclosures remain problematic, and consumers are fighting back on fees. On top of all this, many banks are losing customers, including defections prompted by grassroots efforts like the recent Bank Transfer Day,” Fornell said.
In 2010, credit unions experienced a 5% drop in satisfaction attributed to rapid growth, higher fees and reduced customer service. The December report from ACSI measures retail banks, credit unions and insurance companies.
Data collected from interviews with approximately 70,000 customers annually is used to measure satisfaction with more than 225 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, along with more than 200 services, programs, and websites of approximately 130 federal government agencies.
In other sectors, customer satisfaction with banks, which includes personal banking services such as checking, savings and personal loans, dropped 1.3% to 75. ACSI said this downturn comes from a 1% slip in satisfaction with the aggregation of smaller banks that make up a large portion of the industry’s market share. Still, at 79, the smaller banks stayed well ahead of the four largest banks, despite considerable improvement by Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, ACSI found.
Among the four big banks looked at–Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, last year’s leader, Wells Fargo, kept its customer satisfaction stable, but a 6% improvement for Citigroup placed the two in a tie for first at 73. ACSI said Citigroup’s score reflected customer satisfaction with services of its Citibank division.
“In the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, Citibank is shrinking as it closes branches and serves fewer customers. The customers who have chosen to stay are more satisfied,” the index noted.
The second gainer among four banks, JPMorgan Chase, improved 4% to 70 and moved past Bank of America at 68.