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acsi-customer-satisfaction-retail-banking-sector-1995-2016-nov2016Banks are narrowing the gap with credit unions in customer satisfaction, according to new results [download page] from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Retail banks achieved an ACSI Index score of 80 (on a 100-point scale), a considerable improvement from last year’s 76, and the highest mark in the 22 years of analyzing this sector. Credit unions also gained, though the 1-point improvement to a score of 82 left them well shy of their previous high of 87, set in 2011.

The retail banking sector was paced by regional and community banks, which earned an Index score of 83, ahead of super regional banks (79) and national banks (77), the latter of which nonetheless saw a large increase from a score of 72 last year. Among national banks, Citibank took the lead by virtue of a surge in Index score, up 9 points to 82. The “Big 3” banks – Wells Fargo (76), Chase (75) and Bank of America (75) – also improved, though by smaller margins.

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 websites (85). By contrast, customers are least satisfied with the number and location of branches (72).

That’s important as branch location is the single largest reason why Millennials choose a bank, according to MarketingCharts’ comprehensive “Marketing Financial Services to Millennials” report. This may explain why, contrary to the rest of American adults, Millennials are choosing the Big 3 banks at a much higher rate, and are less likely to engage with community banks and credit unions.

As for credit unions, they fared worse in customers’ assessment of their convenience. In particular, customers gave the number and location of ATMs a score of just 67 (down from 72 last year), with the number and location of branches only a point higher (68, down from 70). Much like retail banks, credit union customers are most satisfied with the courtesy and helpfulness of staff (90), the speed with which financial transactions are completed (89) and their websites (86).

In other ACSI results related to the financial sector:

  • Customer satisfaction with health insurance improved by 3 points to 72, led by Aetna and Anthem (both with an Index score of 75);
  • The property and casualty insurance sector was the only category to see a drop in Index score, falling by a point to 78 (with AAA in the lead with a score of 81);
  • The life insurance sector climbed a couple of points to an overall score of 79, paced by Allstate and New York Life (each at 82); and
  • Customer satisfaction with internet investment services grew by 4 points to a score of 80, with Scottrade (83) in the lead.

The full ACSI report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2016 on banks, credit unions, health insurance, property/casualty insurance, life insurance, and internet investment services is based on interviews with 9,608 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between July 11 and September 23, 2016. 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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