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PHOENIX – Based on survey research, credit unions continue to outpace banks on member trust and advocacy, but they have their work cut out for them in translating this advantage into new business, according to a Forrester Research analyst. Credit unions need to determine strengths, whether it be operational efficiency, “touchy-feely” attitudes in the branches or product sophistication, and then promote them aggressively, declared Catherine Graeber, principal analyst for the Cambridge, Mass. research firm. Speaking at the annual Member Forum conference of PSCU Financial Services, Graeber said its survey data taken a year ago and then updated recently by her firm shows CUs continue to perform well as strong member advocates and rank No. 2 on trust behind USAA, a San Antonio financial services firm serving the military. And yet banks with their branch network and product depth still seem to control the market but the prospects are good for CUs to make headway provided they concentrate on plugging their differences, she said. Members, she said, have a high regard for their institutions when it comes to making transactions as well as creating a sense the credit union takes the members’ side when problems arise. “Firms that score high in customer advocacy are trusted to honor promises and to do what’s right whether or not regulations such as privacy laws require it,” Graeber told the PSCU gathering. In addition to USAA, also scoring high on customer advocacy were State Farm Insurance and the broker A. G. Edwards, she noted. The Forrester surveys also show customers/members appreciate those institutions which are quick to catch and admit mistakes and then alert them by direct phone calls. Based on the Forrester survey asking 5,000 U.S. consumers to rate banks, brokerages and CUs on advocacy, firms with the highest overall scores, such as CUs and USAA, have a high number of customers willing to consider them for future purchases, she said. The lowest scoring firms included JPMorgan Chase, which has fewer customers willing to make future purchases, she said.

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