Satisfaction Grows Among Banking Customers

Financial institutions and their customers took a hit during the recession and many are still struggling to overcome economic hardship. However, the results of a new study show that despite harsh financial times, the relationship between banks and their customers remains strong.

The annual Customer Satisfaction with Retail Banks survey, conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, found positive sentiment among banking customers rose for the first time in three years, despite being charged slightly higher fees. On a 1,000 point scale, customer satisfaction increased four index points to 752 between 2010 and 2011. The study shows an improvement in customer sentiment in certain areas, such as problem resolution, facility and product offerings. Satisfaction in other areas, such as account activities, remained consistent from 2010 data.

However, the study did not find a decline in satisfaction when it came to fees, as some banks have been forced to impose higher charges for certain transactions to recoup profit losses. Analysts say that despite dissatisfaction in this area, customers are still happy in their banking relationships on an overall scale.

“Being charged a fee does not necessarily have to result in dissatisfaction,” said J.D. Power and Associates banking services director Michael Beird. “Customers who completely understand their bank’s fee structure and value the products and services they receive tend to have higher levels of overall satisfaction, despite paying fees.”

In addition, Beird says other services and benefits, such as rewards programs, mobile and online banking have overshadowed fee increases and provided customers with more gains and control over their accounts. According to the survey data, the percentage of Generation X and Y customers who utilize mobile banking applications increased from 11 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2011. Additionally, 75 percent of Generation X customers report using social media applications. The number of Generation Y customers who report the same activity is higher at 87 percent.

Additionally, banks that offer quick and efficient customer service were given higher overall ratings of customer satisfaction, whether representatives provided service in person, online or through social media platforms. Those will lower ratings lost points due to a lack of consistent correspondence with customers who requested help with their accounts.

“Among customers who post customer service inquiries on sites such as Facebook or Twitter and receive a reply, 47 percent say they would definitely reuse the bank for future products and services. This drops to just 27 percent if the bank provides no response,” Beird reports.

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