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CUs Top of the Consumer Satisfaction Heap, Increase Triple That of Banks
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (12/11/13)--Credit unions continue to hold a high reputation in customer satisfaction, resulting in a 3.7% increase this year over last year's ranking in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
 
For 2013, credit unions have an ACSI benchmark of 85--significantly higher than the bank rating of 78. Banks may have inched upward by 1.3% from 2012, but credit unions' increase in the approval rating --at 3.7%--was triple that of banks, according to the cross-industry survey of customer satisfaction.
 
"Credit unions continue to be recognized as trusted financial providers that put member service first," said Paul Gentile, executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement, Credit Union National Association. "The credit union cooperative model centers around helping consumers improve their financial lives, and these survey results reflect how important that is for consumers in today's challenging economic environment."
 
Free checking and lower interest rates are among the reasons why the credit union rating rose, ACSI reported, and the historically better member experience continues to buoy service ratings. Courteous and helpful staff notched a score of 93--higher than the bank rating at 91--followed by quick and efficient transactions at 90, where banks stood at 88.
 
"Credit unions continue to benefit from a very strong emphasis on customer service," David VanAmburg, ACSI director, told News Now. Credit unions' local feel and the ability of staff to make members feel valued and welcome also are reflected in the results, he added.
 
Credit union members do believe their current credit union offers competitive interest rates (85), compared with bank customers who ranked their institution at 73. "This is an interesting psychological area," VanAmburg said. "Bank customers must be thinking about credit unions and community banks when it comes to the comparison.
 
"Conversely, credit union members are clearly looking at big banks and finding a welcome prospect at their credit union."
 
Banks got their uptick in the satisfaction rating this year, though modest, despite it being a year filled with stories about big banks continually hiking fees and about multimillion-dollar settlements regarding allegations that some megabanks played a role in setting the financial crisis on fire by allegedly misleading investors about the quality of the home loans at the heart of mortgage-backed securities.  (See related story, Court Approves $500M MBS Settlement by BofA/Countrywide, in today's Market News section of News Now). Banks have now reached the score they had in 2007 prior to the financial crisis.
 
The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2013 is based on interviews with 5,296 customers, chosen at random and contacted via telephone and email between July 10 and Sept. 4.
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