December 10, 2013

Consumer satisfaction with banks has increased to pre-recession levels, according to a consumer survey conducted by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based American Customer Satisfaction Index.

According to the survey, which polled some 70,000 consumers in the U.S., customer satisfaction with banks grew by 1.3 percent over the past year to reach a score of 78, out of 100. Overall, customer satisfaction with financial services -- which includes banks, credit unions, health insurance, property and casualty insurance, and life insurance -- rose .3 percent in 2013.

According to the survey, smaller banks (which rose 5 percentage points to a score of 83) and credit unions (up 4 percent to 85) far outdistanced their larger competitors. Among the largest four banks, JPMorgan Chase maintained the highest score with a 3 percent gain to 76, while Citigroup jumped 6 percent to 74, and Wells Fargo edged up 1 percent to 72. Bank of America registered its largest improvement in a decade, to reach a score of 69, but remained in last place, and is the only bank that has yet to restore its pre-recession level of customer satisfaction, said the ACSI.

“Even though banks have raised fees again, the 15th straight year of such increases, no negative repercussions have been detected regarding customer satisfaction,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman, in a statement. “In part, this is because a fair number of consumers are changing their behavior to avoid the fees by exclusively using their own bank’s ATMs and maintaining sufficiently large account balances.”

Banks and credit unions both received high marks for their customer service at branches and for online banking. However, customers gave a failing grade to the competitiveness of bank interest rates, while credit union customers find the lack of convenient ATMs and branches to be the most troublesome aspect of the experience.

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Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...