As the stock market has hit new highs, so too has customer satisfaction with banks and insurers.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index reported Tuesday that the index was up 0.3% to 76.7 on a 0–100 scale.
The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2013 was based on interviews with 5,296 customers, chosen at random and contacted via telephone and email between July 10 and Sept. 4.
Participants were asked to evaluate their recent experiences with financial services — including banks, credit unions, health insurance, property and casualty insurance and life insurance — provided by the largest companies in terms of market share, plus an aggregate category consisting of “all other” — and thus smaller — providers.
Banks and Credit Unions
Overall customer satisfaction with retail banking returned to its prerecession level, growing by 1.3% over the past year to an ACSI benchmark of 78.
“Even though banks have raised fees again, the 15th straight year of such increases, no negative repercussions have been detected regarding customer satisfaction,” Claes Fornell, ACSI’s founder and chairman, said in a statement.
“In part, this is because a fair number of consumers are changing their behavior to avoid the fees by exclusively using their own bank’s ATMs and maintaining sufficiently large account balances.”
All of the big banks improved, but smaller ones far outdistanced their larger competitors, up 5% to 83, as did credit unions, up 4% to 85.
Among the four largest banks, JPMorgan Chase held on to its lead with a 3% gain to 76, while Citigroup jumped 6% to 74, and Wells Fargo inched up 1% to 72.
Bank of America registered its largest improvement in a decade, up 5% to 69, but remained in last place. It was the only bank that had yet to restore its prerecession level of customer satisfaction.
Banks and credit unions received good marks for their customer service at branches and for online banking. But customers gave a failing grade to the competitiveness of bank interest rates, while credit union customers complained about the lack of convenient ATMs and branches.
Customer satisfaction with health insurance was up 1.4% to an ACSI benchmark of 73. High premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and complicated policies contributed to relatively low satisfaction compared with other financial services.
“The health insurance industry is in a state of flux as many parts of the Affordable Care Act come into effect, including insurance exchanges, which allow consumers to comparison shop for health care coverage,” ACSI director David VanAmburg said in the statement.