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Northeastern CUs top banks in customer experience study
DENVER, Colo. (1/5/12)--At the risk of sounding like a broken record, credit unions again topped banks in a customer experience survey, this time in the Northeast U.S.

The study, the 2011 Northeast U.S. Bank & Credit Union Customer Experience Survey, was released Tuesday by Prime Performance, a Denver, Colo.-based company that advises banks on improving the client experience. (Use the link to download the free report).

"Credit unions are the overall customer experience leader with a Prime Experience Index (PXI) of 79%, well ahead of the overall bank average of 59%, with small banks, those with less than 100 branches, scoring 75%," said the company's press release (PR Newswire Jan. 4).  Other banks, with more than 100 branches, scored 66%. Credit unions also beat the regional average score of 61% for the Northeast.

Among large banks in the region, PNC ranked first with a PXI of 70%, followed by M&T at 67% and TD bank at 62%.  The lowest scoring banks were Wells Fargo and Sovereign Bank, both at 44%, and HSBC at 43%.

In between were Capital One (58%), Citizens Bank (56%), Citizens Bank (56%), Chase (53%), and Citibank (50%).  Bank of America ranked eighth among the banks, with a score of 46%. The study was completed before BofA made its announcement, now rescinded because of nationwide consumer backlash, it planned a monthly debit card fee.

The study surveyed 4,934 bank customers and credit union members in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. It showed the results for 11 major banks including Bank of America, Capital One, , Chase, Citibank, Citizens Bank, HSBC Bank, M&T Bank, PNC Bank, Sovereign Bank, TD Bank and Wells Fargo.

The PXI is a single metric showing how banks and credit unions are performing on delivering a superior customer experience and is comprised of four measures: satisfaction with service, likely to recommend, likely to come to the bank first for additional products or services (repurchase intent) and how effective that bank is at meeting financial needs. Use the link for more information on the calculations.

"When it comes to the emotional aspects of the customer/bank relationship, as well as how customers feel about rates and fees, banks come up short compared to credit unions," said Jim S. Miller, president of Prime Performance.

Other findings for the region:

  • Fifty-six percent  believe their bank or credit union is doing what is in the customer's best interest and 9% feel the bank or credit union is not acting in the customer's best interest, for a net score of 47%.
  • Seventy-four percent of members say their credit union is looking out for the member's best interest and only 2% believe they are not, resulting in a net score of 72%.
  • Among the big banks, customers trust M&T the most, with 59% believing the bank is doing what is in the customer's best interest and 5% not, for a net score of 53%.
  • PNC had the second highest net score among the big banks at 52%. While only 2% of credit union members and 4% of small bank customers believe their financial institution is not acting in the customer's best interest, 16% of Wells Fargo and 17% of Bank of America customers feel they are not acting in the customer's best interest. At both banks,  41% of customers do believe they act in the customer's best interest, resulting in a net score of 25% at Wells Fargo and 24% at Bank of America.
"Our survey concluded about a week before Bank of America announced its plans to add a debit card fee. Even at that time, many customers questioned whether they could trust their bank to act in their customer's best interest. In this economic environment, the importance of trust cannot be understated. No matter how hard they try, if  banks do not act in their customers' best interest, they cannot create a satisfying experience," said Miller.

"Credit unions have the trust of their members and it shows in their scores," he concluded.

The survey comes on top of other surveys the past month with similar findings.

On Dec. 14, News Now reported the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which found 87% of credit union members are more satisified than ever before with their credit unions' services, compared to 75% of bank customers' satisfaction with their banks.

On Dec. 8, Prime Performance released its national 2011 Bank & Credit Union Satisfaction Survey, in which credit unions scored 89%, compared with 82% for the banking industry and 80% for large banks.
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