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BofA CEO to workers: Fix service

By Claes Bell ·
Friday, February 8, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

BofA CEO to workers: Improve service.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan recently fired off a letter -- the old-fashioned stamped and mailed kind -- to the bank's 270,000 employees worldwide, urging them to change the way they treat customers.

The letter came in response to the BofA ranking well behind megabank competitors JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo and Citigroup in the American Customer Satisfaction Index published in December.

As a baseline, all the banks surveyed in the ACSI averaged 77 out of 100 possible points in customer satisfaction. While not one of the megabanks managed to hit that benchmark -- Wells Fargo was the highest at 74 -- BofA scored 66 out of 100, its lowest score in a decade. In contrast, credit unions scored an average of 82 points in the index, handily beating all of them.

But how important is having good customer service, anyway? After all, BofA hasn't broken 70 in the ACSI since 2008, and yet it's still the largest bank by deposits in the country, with well over $1 trillion sitting in customer accounts. In fact, none of the top four biggest banks have ever scored more than a 74 in the index.

So what gives? When it comes to choices about where to bank, customer service isn't the only thing people consider, says Ted Thames, senior director at Cornerstone Advisors, a financial industry consulting firm in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"I do believe, based on some of the focus groups that I've seen and been a part of, that service is important, but the other factors of personal convenience, the cost of managing the account, fees and charges, and rates are also extremely important," he says.

Bank of America's large nationwide network of customers and online offerings have helped keep it on top, he says. But a renewed focus on customer service probably wouldn't hurt.

"I'm glad to see Bank of America make that step," Thames says.

What do you think? Is quality of service your No. 1 criteria for choosing a bank, or are other factors more important?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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1 Comment
March 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

BofA, Chase, and Citi don't compete on service. They purchase customer bases and mine them for revenues. I have never done business directly with BofA or Chase, but my credit report is littered with them, because they've bought all the banks I had previously chosen to do business with.

As soon as a bank gets bought by BofA or Chase, I close out and go somewhere else, but I'm running out of places to go. I would wager that millions of dissatisfied BofA customers simply do not have the option to leave anymore.