Satisfaction with Bank Facilities and Routine Interactions Offset Decreasing Satisfaction with Fees

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Big Banks Making Improvements in Reducing Number of Problems Experienced and in Problem Resolution

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 19 April 2012 — While consumers are growing increasingly dissatisfied with fees, banks are able to offset it with higher satisfaction in other areas, such as banking facilities, account activities, and problem resolution, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction StudySM released today.  

The study, now in its seventh year, finds that overall retail banking customer satisfaction has improved by one index point in 2012 to an average of 753 (on a 1,000-point scale) from 2011. Customer satisfaction with the retail banking experience is measured in six factors: account activities; account information; facility; fees; problem resolution; and product offerings.  

Satisfaction with fees has declined to 609, down significantly from 625 in 2011 and from 656 in 2010. Monthly maintenance fees have the most significant negative impact on fees satisfaction this year--more so than in the 2011 and 2010 studies--while fees assessed for ATMs and debit cards have less negative impacts on fees satisfaction.

"The negative reaction to fees reflects customers' irritation about paying for something they didn't have to pay for in the past," said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It also reflects a lack of their complete understanding about what they're getting for those fees. Customers understand why they're being charged for ATM and debit card use, but are not clear on what they're getting for monthly maintenance fees, which drives the bigger drop in satisfaction with those fees."

The study finds that despite the decline in fee satisfaction, banks, on average, are able to offset that negative impact on customer satisfaction in other areas, such as facilities and routine transactions.  Customer satisfaction with bank facilities--branch and ATM locations, appearance and hours of operation--has improved this year to 779, compared with 771 in 2011 and 765 in 2010.

One behavior helping increase satisfaction with the branch is that 76 percent of customers say they are greeted by a bank employee when they enter the bank, an increase from 68 percent in the 2010 study. In addition, customer satisfaction with the reliability and ease of using ATM machines has increased to 815 from 795 in 2011.

"Satisfaction with ATMs is driven by the increased reliability, user friendliness and functionality found in the newer generation of ATMs in which many banks have invested the past few years," said Beird. "One of the most pertinent metrics is the percentage of customers who use ATMs to make deposits has more than doubled over the past four years, from 19 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2012."

When looking at banks in aggregate by relative size, satisfaction with big banks  is 743, a two-point increase from 2011, while satisfaction with midsize banks is up four points to 781. Regional banks experience a slight dip in overall satisfaction, to 759 from 760 in 2011.

"Big banks continue to lag the other banks in overall satisfaction, but they have made significant improvements in reducing the number of problems customers experience and in problem resolution, specifically resolving problems on first contact," said Beird.

The study also finds mobile banking, while still used by a relatively small proportion of customers, is increasing. Nearly one-fourth (16%) of customers cite using some mobile banking, compared with 10 percent in 2011. Among these customers, 11 percent use smartphone apps; five percent use texting for mobile interactions; and six percent use a mobile browser to access their bank. Smartphone apps are used most frequently to check account balances (74%) and transfer funds (47%). In addition, 18 percent of mobile banking customers use a smartphone to make deposits.

"Despite the progression in mobile banking, it still represents a small proportion of customers who regularly rely on the technology," Beird said.  "What is interesting is that only one-half of customers using mobile banking report that they fully understand the capability of the technology. This represents an opportunity for banks to educate their customers, increase usage and potentially deepen customer share of wallet."
According to Beird, customers who want to get the most out of the fees they pay their bank should consider a few simple steps:

  • Ask questions at either the branch or over the phone to ensure you fully understand any fees or service charges that appear on statements. The bank should be prepared to offer a complete and satisfactory explanation.
  • Examine how you bank to see if you can reduce or eliminate fees. For example, withdrawing money from other banks' ATMs usually incurs fees from both banks.
  • Talk to the bank representative to see if your current accounts offer the best features and services for how you do banking. You may be missing out on features or services available in new products.
  • If you use mobile and online technology, learn all you can about those offerings, any costs associated with using those services, and whether the features meet your ongoing needs.

The study measures satisfaction among banks in 11 regions. Study results by region are:

California: Rabobank ranks highest in California with a score of 803, and performs particularly well in the fees and account activities factors. California Bank & Trust (783) and U.S. Bank (774) follow in the rankings.

Florida: PNC Bank ranks highest in Florida with a score of 794 and performs well in the in-person and online account activities factors. Chase (785) and Citibank (783) follow in the rankings.

Mid-Atlantic Region
: With a score of 823, Northwest Savings Bank ranks highest in the region and performs well in fees and account activities. Huntington National Bank follows with a score of 801, and S&T Bank ranks third with 799.

Midwest Region: Commerce Bank ranks highest in the region with a score of 801, and performs particularly well in the fees and facilities factors. UMB Bank follows with a score of 794, and AnchorBank ranks third with 783.

New England Region
: Rockland Trust Co. ranks highest in the region with a score of 811 and performs well in the product offerings and fees factors. Eastern Bank follows with a score of 791, and TD Bank ranks third with 770.

North Central Region
Independent Bank ranks highest in the region with a score of 802. Community Trust Bank and Chemical Bank follow in the rankings with scores of 794 and 793, respectively.

Northwest Region: With a score of 821, Banner Bank ranks highest in the region and performs well in facilities and account activities. Umpqua Bank (807) ranks second, followed by Columbia State Bank and Sterling Savings Bank in a tie, each with 800.

South Central Region: Arvest Bank ranks highest in the region with a score of 826 and performs particularly well in the facilities and fees factors. Hancock Bank (802) and Whitney National Bank (795) follow in the rankings.

Southeast Region: First Federal ranks highest with a score of 830, performing particularly well in the facilities and product offerings factors. First Citizens Bancshares follows in the rankings with 817, and First Citizens Bancorp ranks third with 816.

Southwest Region: Arvest Bank ranks highest in the region with 827 and performs particularly well in facilities and product offerings. MidFirst Bank (813) and FirstBank (CO) (801) follow in the rankings.

: With a score of 859, Frost National Bank ranks highest in Texas and performs well across all six factors, particularly in account activities and fees. Woodforest National Bank (817) and Prosperity Bank (802) follow in the rankings.

The 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study is based on responses from nearly 52,000 retail banking customers regarding their experiences with their retail bank. The study was fielded in January and February 2012.

For more information, view retail banking satisfaction ratings at

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.  For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at

Media Relations Contacts:

John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218;
Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103;

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No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates.

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