For instance, just 20% of the representatives at credit unions thought to ask shoppers whether they wanted a business or personal checking account, compared with half of the representatives at big banks. Likewise, just 20% of the credit union representatives bothered to ask whether the customer would be needing online banking services, compared with 64% of representatives at online banks. And amazingly, 23% of the credit union representatives and 29% of the small bank representatives failed to ask any of the 11 questions on the list, compared with just 2% of representatives at large banks.
“I’m not surprised that we’re hearing that,” says Howard Seibel, a customer acquisition expert and managing director of marketing consultancy Wharton Strategic Services. “I’m sure if you looked at Citibank’s or Bank of America’s training department, you’d find they’ve got more people working there than in an entire credit union.”
He also adds that big banks are increasingly offering incentives to representative who open new accounts, which explains why so many of the mystery shoppers describe encountering enthusiastic representatives at big banks – it’s in these representatives’ best interest to sell you on a new account.
Big Banks Best at Building Customer Confidence
Given how drastically the customers’ first impressions differ between credit unions and big banks, it’s not surprising that prospective customers were more likely to lean toward joining the big bank: 42% of mystery shoppers in the survey left the big banks feeling “confident that this bank would be the right choice,” compared to just 30% who said the same of the credit unions and 22% at the small banks.
As is often the case, first impressions make a big difference, and if customer service is the most important factor for you, then that’s certainly an understandable choice. But if factors like superior fees and rates are what’s driving you to consider switching to a new bank, it might be beneficial to look past your first impression and consider how the competing institutions stack up where it counts.
“The representative… was confident and knowledgeable,” reported one mystery shopper after a visit to a Chase bank in Texas. “Based on my positive experience with the representative, I may consider opening an account at this bank. However, my reservations with joining this bank stem from it being a national bank that is not competitive with their interest rates.”