The results of Market Force Information’s annual US banking study are in, and it’s good news for the retail banks. Consumer sentiment appears to be improving, as evidenced by the fact that 57% of those surveyed are very satisfied with their relationship with their primary bank – that’s up 8 percentage points over last year. Banking customers are also more inclined to recommend their primary bank to friends or colleagues.

So why, specifically, is satisfaction up? Which aspects of the customer experience have improved at banks over last year? Market Force has identified six key measures that, when executed in combination, impact a bank’s ability to delight customers and improve their satisfaction. They include:

  • Understanding a customer’s unique needs
  • Having a customer’s complete trust
  • Resolving Issues efficiently
  • Making frequent transactions easy
  • Having an excellent reputation
  • Charging fair rates and fees

This year, we saw an increase on every one of those key measures. For some, scores went up nearly 10%. [See Graph 1].

Graph 1: Satisfaction on Six Key Measures

When we look at how the individual banks perform on those six measures, USAA Federal Savings Bank and Navy Federal Credit Union dominated the rankings, taking the first and second spots in each category. Regions Bank also scored consistently well across the board. Conversely, Wells Fargo and Bank of America landed at or near the bottom for every measure. [See Graph 2.]

Graph 2: Banks Ranked by Key Measures

It comes as no surprise, then, that our study found Navy Federal and USAA are America’s favorite financial institutions, as measured by the Composite Loyalty Index, an aggregation of consumer satisfaction and their likelihood to recommend the bank to others. The two institutions tied for the top spot this year with a shared score of 81%. Regions bank came in second, trailing Navy Federal and USAA by 20 percentage points, but outperforming all other traditional retail banks, followed by Chase, Capital One and PNC Bank. [See Graph 3.]

Graph 3: Favorite banking Institutions

While sentiment may be trending upward, Market Force still found that 13% of study participants are considering switching to a different primary bank in the next six months. The top five reasons cited for switching to another brand include:

  • Desire for lower fees or rates
  • Dissatisfaction with service received
  • Feeling that the bank is not helping to improve financial wellbeing
  • Desire for better returns on money
  • Recommendations for a new bank

As we embark on a new year, banks have the opportunity to renew their focus on the measures that matter most to their customers and drive satisfaction. Our hope is that we continue to see positive momentum in these areas and can report in 2019 that satisfaction and sentiment have continued to improve as a result of a keen focus on delighting customers and delivering an exceptional experience. 

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