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Bank customer satisfaction climbs

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Friday, December 27, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

A new report shows that customer satisfaction levels at banks have returned to pre-recession levels. On the 100-point scale of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, retail banking earned a 78. That's an increase of 1.3 percent versus the same period in 2012.

Not surprisingly, community banks and credit unions helped lead the charge. These institutions have reputations for lower fees and better customer service, and the recent report solidifies that reputation with a five-point increase for small banks and a four-point increase for credit unions.

However, the big banks of the banking industry are doing their part, too. Citigroup's customer satisfaction climbed by six points, and Bank of America's customers reported a five-point increase. Despite that surge, BofA still has a long way to go. The financial giant's satisfaction index clocks in with a last-place finish of 69.

So, how is satisfaction increasing while plenty of consumers continue to voice anger over bank fees? It appears that many of them are getting smarter about navigating potential pitfalls that can cost them money.

“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, ASCI 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."

While the report is positive, there is still room for improvement for all financial institutions. Consumers complained about low savings rates at banks, and credit union members voiced some frustrations over the lack of convenient ATMs and branches.

How satisfied are you with your bank?

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