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What was a 12-point gap in customer satisfaction as recently as 2011 has narrowed to a 1-point gap. The latest Finance and Insurance Report [download page] from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows that retail bank satisfaction is up again this year, improving a point from last year’s record high and almost reaching parity with credit unions.

Customer satisfaction with the retail banking sector now averages 81 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. That puts banks right behind credit unions, which remained flat at 82.

The retail banking sector was again paced by regional and community banks, which gained 2 points to an index score of 85, ahead of super regional banks (flat at 79) and national banks (+1 to 78).

Among national banks, Citibank remained in the lead despite a single-point drop (to 81). Two of the “Big 3” banks – Chase (+4 points to 79) and Bank of America (+2 points to 77) improved, while Wells Fargo dropped a couple of points to 74, the worst score among national banks.

For the retail banking industry as a whole, customers expressed the most satisfaction with the courtesy and helpfulness of tellers or other staff (88), the speed of financial transactions in the branch (85) and with websites (85). By contrast, customers were least satisfied with the competitiveness of interest rates (74) and the number and location of branches (74).

Customer satisfaction is important for banks, which are facing a challenge from alternative providers: research indicates that half of Millennials in the US would consider banking with a big tech company such as Amazon or Google.

Credit unions, for their part, have the same general strengths and weaknesses as banks. Customers are generally happiest with the courtesy and helpfulness of tellers or other staff (89), while least satisfied with the number and location of branchs (71) and ATMs (71).

Prior research has indicated that banks have been responding even in this digital age, with survey results showing that they were more likely to increase than decrease their physical branches.

Customer Satisfaction With Other Financial Institutions

  • Customer satisfaction with the Health Insurance industry improved by a point to 73, led by Humana (79) and Kaiser Permanente (79), which each enjoyed large gains. Customers were happiest with their access to primary care doctors (79) and least satisfied with the range of health plans available (73). Despite the overall improvement, Health Insurance still sits in the bottom tier of industries by overall customer satisfaction – and continues to be among the worst-rated for customer experience.
  • The Property and Casualty Insurance sector improved by 2 points to an overall index score of 80 (with AAA in the lead again with a score of 82).
  • The Life Insurance sector was one of two verticals in the broader financial industry to slip this year, dropping a point to 78. Northwestern Mutual (+4) and Thrivent Financial (+2) both improved, though, each to a leading score of 83.
  • The Internet Investment Services vertical was the other to slip this year, also down a point, to 78. Vanguard led the way with a score of 82.

About the Data: The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2017 on banks, credit unions, health insurance, property/ casualty insurance, life insurance, and internet investment services is based on interviews with 17,861 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between October 1, 2016, and September 16, 2017. Customers are asked to evaluate their recent experiences with financial services provided by the largest firms in terms of market share, plus an aggregate category consisting of “all other” — and thus smaller — companies in these industries.

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