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Consumers Sour on Big Banks, Sweet on Credit Unions

A Harris Interactive poll shows just how bad consumer sentiment has turned towards big banks, but people love their credit unions. The online survey, fielded to 2,463 US participants age 18 and up in mid October, asked financial consumers about their level of trust, loyalty and overall satisfaction.

The study paints a bleak picture for banks, particularly BofA. Nearly one in ten BofA customers said they were not at all satisfied, and nearly the same number are not at all likely to continue using the bank. 15% rated BofA’s service “poor.”

On the sunnier side, people like their credit unions. Credit union members are twice as likely to be very- or extremely satisfied than bank customers. And almost nine out of 10 members say they are very- or extremely likely to continue using their credit union, about double that of bank customers. Credit union members are three times as likely as BofA’s customers to experience a trustworthy relationship and feel valued as a customer.

Fortunately for big banks, Harris Interactive says everyone won’t follow through on their threats to leave. The study showed that while only one-quarter to one-third of big bank customers are experiencing a positive overall relationship, almost half say they are likely to continue using the same institutions.

“Let’s face it, it’s a time-consuming and complex task to evaluate alternatives and switch your primary bank,” points out Carol Gstalder, EVP/Market and Customer Insights at Harris Interactive. Still, that doesn’t mean banks have nothing to worry about.

“Big banks will need to make real changes to earn back the trust of their customers,” according to Gstalder. “Even more, they’ll need to do it quickly before a regional competitor, community bank, or credit union figures out how to make it simple for customers to switch to partners who provide an exceptional customer experience.”

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Likelihood to Continue to Use

Credit
Unions
Banks BofA Chase Wells Overall
Avg.
Extremely likely 61% 34% 14% 26% 24% 37%
Very likely 26% 24% 25% 20% 30% 25%
Likely 10% 24% 31% 33% 24% 23%
Somewhat likely 1% 14% 20% 18% 16% 12%
Not at all likely 2% 4% 9% 3% 6% 3%

Overall Satisfaction

Credit
Unions
Banks BofA Chase Wells Overall
Avg.
Extremely satisfied 28% 18% 6% 12% 13% 19%
Very satisfied 45% 26% 21% 19% 21% 28%
Satisfied 18% 32% 32% 37% 41% 31%
Somewhat satisfied 10% 20% 30% 29% 17% 18%
Not at all satisfied 0% 4% 10% 2% 7% 4%
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Trustworthy Relationship

Credit
Unions
Banks BofA Chase Wells Overall
Avg.
Excellent 33% 20% 7% 13% 12% 22%
Very good 41% 25% 18% 21% 26% 27%
Good 22% 34% 37% 34% 35% 33%
Fair 4% 16% 26% 25% 19% 14%
Poor 0% 5% 12% 8% 8% 5%

Value Me as a Customer

Credit
Unions
Banks BofA Chase Wells Overall
Avg.
Excellent 33% 20% 5% 12% 11% 21%
Very good 39% 24% 19% 23% 24% 26%
Good 19% 33% 34% 35% 36% 31%
Fair 9% 18% 28% 25% 20% 17%
Poor 0% 6% 15% 5% 10% 5%

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