Surprise: new survey shows that banks' image has taken a hit

U.S. Banker, a prominent industry magazine aimed at banking executives, has an interesting story in its July issue about a survey that recently was put out by J.D. Power & Associates.

Only 12% of more than 7,500 consumers surveyed were able to report that they had a completely satisfactory experience with their bank.

That's troubling for banks because the same survey -- which 25 banks participated in -- shows that when people choose a bank, they pick it based on the brand (36% voted for the brand being the number one attraction).

The bank brand is even more important than the convenience factor, as in how many bank branches there are, and where are they located (21% picked that). And it's far more important than the bank's actual services (14%).

Most customers, unless they have a marketing background, probably don't really think long and hard about a bank's brand, but it does make sense. You're more likely to go to a bank you've heard of, whether through advertising or word-of-mouth than one you know nothing about, or one that has a sleazy reputation.

So what does this survey have to do with you? Not much on the surface, but we may ultimately see banks striving to offer better customer service.

Not that fees are going to go down, but one of J.D. Power's lead researchers quoted in U.S. Bank advised banks to start making sure that employees have better knowledge of products and services, including the folks who man the call centers. And that, of course, would be a nice start.

It also makes me think about some of the most ridiculous fees that have appeared in scattered banks around the country--they began cropping up in the 1990s--and that's the charges for daring to talk to a human teller. While some banks probably will continue doing that, I can't see that ever becoming a widespread practice.

If it does ever become the norm, I'll buy a hat and then eat it. That's because it's a practice that shatters the stereotype of the friendly neighborhood bank, and that image, as we can see, is one that banks need very much to maintain.
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