November 12, 2012

Small businesses are less satisfied with their banking relationships than retail customers, according to a new customer satisfaction study by J.D Power and Associates . Small business banking customers surveyed in the study averaged an overall satisfaction score of 736 (on a 1,000-point scale, while retail customers averaged 753, according to the study.

The report ranked individual banks by small business customer satisfaction on the same 1,000-point scale. Huntington Bank led the pack with a score of 793, followed by SunTrust Bank (774) and BB&T (772). Sovereign Bank received the lowest average score of 700, with HSBC and Bank of America tied for next to last with scores of 702.

[See Related: The Way to Small Business Banking Customers' Hearts? Through Their Mobile Devices]

The study attributed part of the lower satisfaction level of small business customers to basic customer service practices. For instance, the study found found an increase in 106 points in satisfaction when small business customers are greeted by name at the branch. But the report said that this only happened to 47 percent of small business customers surveyed, compared to 64 percent of retail customers.

The report also found a considerable bump in satisfaction among customers who had an account manager assigned to them, but only when that manager "completely" understood their business. Satisfaction only increased a single percentage point on average with small businesses assigned an account manager who did not or only "partially" understood their business. But customers with an account manager who truly understood their business had an average satisfaction score of 848, compared to 708 for those without an account manager.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...