May 4, 2011

Customers are happier with their banks...?

According to a report in CNN,For the first time in more than three years, consumers say they are happier with their banks.

No, this isn't a joke.

While you can find stories every day about new fees popping up, and credit card interest rates rising as banks squirm under new regulations, consumers have actually become more satisfied with their banking experiences this year, according to research group J.D. Power and Associates' annual survey.

On a 1,000 point scale, customer satisfaction came in at 752 this year, up four index points from last year and the first uptick in sentiment since 2007.
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What caused customers to warm up to their banks? Better in-person branch interactions, improved access to detailed account information and more product offerings that fit their lifestyles -- including online and mobile tools, the report indicated.

Even perceptions of banks' brand reputations have gotten better -- the first positive change since 2008.

But just because sentiment improved doesn't mean customers don't still have major gripes. What upset them most this year were the changes banks have been making to fee structures. While the number of customers reported being charged fees actually declined from 53% in 2010 to 43% this year, consumers were less satisfied with the way banks were choosing to impose charges.

This year, 18% of customers said their fee structures had changed in the last year, compared with 16% in 2010. J.D. Power said that changes in fee structures typically cause a customer's overall satisfaction rating to decrease by an average of 84 index points.

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