bank rates

We Luuuuvvvv Our Banks More Than Ever

The Charlotte-based bank is now paying 2.05% APY with a $3,000 minimum deposit.
Well, more than ever since 2007.

Despite record-low savings rates and higher fees it seems, we’re increasingly satisfied with where we bank and how we’re being treated.

At least that’s what the 2014 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power & Associates tells us.

The well-respected research firm ranks banks on a 1,000-point scale based on feedback that covers certain aspects of more than 80,000 consumers’ banking experiences in 11 regions.

J.D. Power measured customer satisfaction in six key areas: account information, channel activities, facility, fees, problem resolution and product offerings.

The average score for all banks with $2 billion or more in total deposits was 785, up from 763 last year and 748 in 2010.

That was the industry’s worst performance since the survey went national in 2007. The previous high had been 777 in that initial year.

Although banks are charging higher fees than they did back then, Jim Miller, the director of banking services at J.D. Power says they’ve done a really good job of providing better service through their branches, websites and product offerings.

“I think that’s what’s really driving up the satisfaction,” Miller told me today.

He says that if you think about it, in 2007 free checking was easy to find. In 2014, free checking has pretty much been eliminated – and yet satisfaction is higher.

Results were provided for three individual states and eight regions of the country:

You can check out the full findings here:

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • California
  • New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
  • Mid-Atlantic: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia
  • Southwest: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah
  • Southeast: Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina
  • South Central: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee
  • Midwest: Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas
  • Northwest: Washington and Oregon
  • North Central: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia

In case you were wondering, Frost Bank down in Texas had the best score at 856.

HSBC had the lowest score, receiving a 714 in the mid-Atlantic region survey.

Overall, regional banks (those with between $33 billion and $180 billion in deposits) got the award for most improved, jumping 24 points this year from last to 784.

Big banks (the six largest financial institutions based on total deposits) were next in line, rising 23 points to 782.

Midsize banks (between $2 billion and $33 billion in deposits) were the least improved, only increasing 11 points to 796 – but they still hold the lead in terms of overall customer satisfaction scores.

I think it’s pretty hopeful that only 16% of customers have experienced a problem or have had a complaint in 2014, which is two percentage points less than in 2013.

In addition, satisfaction with problem resolution has increased by 25 points this year from last, hitting 620 on the 1,000 point scale.

For those customers that switched banks during the last 12 months:

  • 28% cited poor customer service as the reason.
  • 21% claimed that branch locations were inconvenient.
  • 19% said that interest rates weren’t competitive enough.
  • 15% cited high fees.

Here’s a final thought.

While this study is a great guide to customer satisfaction, I probably wouldn’t trade a bank that’s offering higher rates for one with better customer service.

But I would certainly stay away from the lowest-ranked banks.

Follow Mitch Strohm on Google Plus.

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