Credit Unions Shatter Consumer Satisfaction Record
December 14, 2011
December 15, 2011
A report released this week shows that credit union members are more satisfied with their financial cooperative than any other consumers in any other economic sector in the 16-year history of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Scoring a whopping 87 on a 100-point scale—an 8.7 percent increase over 2010 and the highest score ever reached by any of ACSI’s 47 industries—credit unions in just one year tripled their ACSI lead over banks, which lost ground in the survey, falling to 75 points as consumers left the for-profit bank sector in droves and switched to not-for-profit credit unions. Small banks fared slightly better with a score of 79.
The beleaguered Bank of America, whose Sept. 29 announcement of a $5 monthly debit card fee is credited by many for paving the road for this past quarter’s bank exodus, scored a dismal 68.
“The ACS Index, and every other survey that compares bank and credit union consumer satisfaction side by side, has always been a point of pride. Serving members is credit unions’ highest purpose,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro. “As the ‘happiness gap’ between credit unions and banks widens, I expect to see a lot of banks attempt to appear more like credit unions in their marketing.”
A cursory scan of bank advertising and outreach efforts shows that banks are indeed hyping local ties and low or no fees.
“Only time will tell if they are successful,” Annaloro added.
An ASCI analysis of the financial services “Happiness Gap” states, “Some of the big banks have increased customer satisfaction this year, but they are so far behind both smaller banks and, especially, credit unions that the exodus of customers is likely to continue, supported by grassroots movements such as November’s Bank Transfer Day. While it is too early to quantify just how much business the big banks have lost to smaller competitors, the new ACSI data suggest credit unions and small banks now have become an even more attractive alternative for consumers.”
For credit unions, the challenge now is to maintain a high level of customer service with minimal or no fees during this influx of new members. Following the consumer “flight to safety” in 2009, as the economy collapsed and consumers began looking at credit unions to satisfy their banking needs, consumer satisfaction with credit unions dropped slightly.
“The challenge of trying to serve so many new members so rapidly was not lost on America’s credit unions,” said NWCUA President Troy Stang. “As a result of that experience, credit unions are now armed with knowledge and insight to make every new credit union member a happy credit union member.”
This includes turnkey switch kits to make the process of converting from a bank to a credit union easy, and hiring additional employees to efficiently handle member requests. Some credit unions are even adding products and services, such as mobile banking apps for smart phones and electric car charging stations to support green auto loans.
With an estimate from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) that shows credit unions realizing 50-percent growth in new accounts in the wake of Bank Transfer Day—a number that is disputed by some—the community’s preparedness for the influx will be tested. However, confidence is high within the credit union movement that member satisfaction will only grow in 2012.
ACSI releases results on a monthly basis to bring stakeholders in-depth coverage of various sectors of the economy throughout the entire calendar year. The national index is updated quarterly, factoring in ACSI scores from more than 225 companies in 47 industries; two local government services; and more than 200 programs, services, and websites offered by 130 federal agencies.
Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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