NEW YORK (MainStreet) --Consumers are notoriously fickle about what banks they like and why, but J.D. Power & Associates provides some much-needed clarity on which banks — in in which states — are rated the best.
J.D. Power’s 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study was released on April 19, and it’s a genuine treasure trove of insider data on how consumers view banks, and what factors keep them happy with their current financial institutions, and what factors may lead them to start shopping for new ones.
The Westlake Village, Calif.-based business marketing firm says that, overall, consumers have had it with bank fees, but adds that they’ll stick around if their bank compensates for high fees with superior services, great customer resolution programs and increased banking options, both online and of the brick-and-mortar variety.
J.D. Power also notes that the needle has barely budged on bank satisfaction levels on a year-to-year basis. The study’s consumer satisfaction index edged up by one point, from 752 to 753 (out of 1,000) from last year’s study. When the numbers are broken down, the disparity widens depending on the bank issue that consumers covered.
For example, there is a 16-point drop in consumer favorability ratings on bank fees (625 to 609). This drop is hardly a surprise, study researchers point out. "The negative reaction to fees reflects customers' irritation about paying for something they didn't have to pay for in the past," Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates said in a statement. "It also reflects a lack of their complete understanding about what they're getting for those fees. Customers understand why they're being charged for ATM and debit card use, but are not clear on what they're getting for monthly maintenance fees, which drives the bigger drop in satisfaction with those fees."
The Power study says banks can compensate for those high fees, with specialized services like ATM machines that accept deposits and bank branch greeters (76% of consumers serviced say like being “greeted” when walking into a bank). "Satisfaction with ATMs is driven by the increased reliability, user friendliness and functionality found in the newer generation of ATMs in which many banks have invested the past few years," Beird added. "One of the most pertinent metrics is the percentage of customers who use ATMs to make deposits has more than doubled over the past four years, from 19% in 2008 to 40% in 2012."
The study also measures consumer satisfaction levels on banks on a regional basis (with 11 categories). For example, J.D. Power says that, in California, Rabobank earned the highest consumer score, at 803, followed by California Bank & Trust and U.S. Bank. In Florida, PNC Bank ranked highest, at 794 points, followed by Chase and Citibank, leading industry observers to surmise that Florida’s older population may prefer larger banks. In the Mid-Atlantic region, Northwest Savings Banks finished on top, followed by Huntington National Bank and S&T Bank. Commerce Bank led the Mid-West region, while Rockland Trust Co. led the survey’s New England rankings.