- Banks have topped credit unions in overall customer satisfaction for the first time since the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) began keeping tabs on credit unions in 2008. Banks scored 80 out of 100 points, while credit unions earned 79. That marks a dip for both from last year, when banks and credit unions each scored 81.
- Banks were placed in three categories: national, super-regional, and regional and community banks. National banks were the only category to increase their score overall from last year, to 78 from 77. Three of the four national banks saw increases individually, with Citi ranking highest at 81.
- Regional and community banks outscored their national and super-regional competitors in each of the 12 benchmarks participants were asked to measure, except number and location of branches and ATMs. Regional and community banks also outscored credit unions in every measure except number and location of branches.
Trends show increasing parity among banks and credit unions. As recently as 2011, there was a 12-point gap between customer service at credit unions (87) and banks (75). Credit union scores began their most recent dip in 2015, when they fell from 85 to 81. Customer satisfaction with banks jumped from 76 to 80 the following year.
The University of Michigan-run index has measured banking satisfaction since 1995 and added credit unions to the mix in 2008. The scores are based on interviews with more than 30,000 customers chosen at random and contacted by email from October 2018 to September 2019.
Participants were asked to rate courtesy and helpfulness of staff; speed of financial transactions; mobile app quality; mobile app reliability; website satisfaction; call center satisfaction; competitiveness of interest rates; number and location of ATMs; number and location of branches; variety of financial services; ease of adding or making changes to accounts; and ease of understanding information about accounts.
Credit unions attained their highest marks in courtesy (87) and speed of transactions (85), although the latter dropped three points from last year. Big banks’ highest ratings (85) came in courtesy and mobile app quality, perhaps a testament to tech spend — Citi allocated $10.8 billion in 2018 for technology, the ACSI report said — and to what customers value.
"Customers want mobile options, and big banks have the resources to deliver," David VanAmburg, managing director of the ACSI, said in a press release. "As technology improves, so does customer satisfaction. The personalized service that’s the hallmark of smaller banks and credit unions may no longer be as critical to customers, especially a younger demographic."
Credit unions’ scores suffered most over call center satisfaction (a four-point drop to 80), ease of making changes to accounts (four points, to 78) and competitiveness of interest rates (three points, to 74).
JPMorgan Chase was the only national bank whose score fell since last year, from 80 to 79. Bank of America rose one point to 77. Wells Fargo jumped two points to 76, as it continued to recover from its 2016 fake-accounts scandal. The bank’s interest rates, however, are the least competitive in its class, the index showed.
BB&T ranked first among super-regionals with 80 points. Capital One and SunTrust, which led the class last year with 81 points, both fell — Capital One to 79, and SunTrust to 76, the steepest drop of the year. Capital One may be reaping some of the fallout from a breach unveiled in July that exposed the personal data of 106 million customers. And although BB&T and SunTrust are heralding their merger as one of equals, customers don’t seem to be seeing it that way. “Over the past year, perceived quality has diminished dramatically for SunTrust, and its interest rates are deemed the worst in class among the midsized banks,” the report said.
Fifth Third made the biggest climb in the class, from 75 to 78, on the strength of improvements to the bank’s mobile app. TD Bank also moved three points but in a fall from 80 to 77. The bank agreed in June to a $70 million settlement over excessive overdraft fees.