Now in its fifth year, this year’s JD Power
Satisfaction Index finds that overall satisfaction of retail
banking customers in the US averaged 748 on 1,000- point scale in
2010—a slight decrease from 749 in 2009.

The brand image of banks also continues to
decline, with customers perceiving banks as being more
profit-driven than customer-driven, compared with 2009.

In addition, the percentage of customers who
say they “definitely will not” switch banks during the next 12
months has decreased significantly during the past three years to
34 percent in 2010, compared with 46 percent three years ago in the
2007 study.

The 2010 US Retail Banking Satisfaction Study
is based on responses from nearly 48,000 respondents (almost double
the 28,000 respondents surveyed in 2009) regarding their
experiences with their banking provider and was conducted in
January and February this year.

The gap in loyalty between customers of larger
and smaller banks is marked: 41 percent of customers at smaller
banks say they “definitely will not” switch, compared with 32
percent at larger banks.

Acquisition rates are also improving at
smaller banks, with new customers accounting for 8 percent of the
customer base, compared with an industry average of 6 percent.

Poor customer service, the most common reason
given for switching banks, is cited by 37 percent of customers who
changed their primary bank in 2010.

Fees continue to have a major impact on
customer loyalty, with 29 percent of customers who switched banks
in 2010 citing high fees for products or services as their reason
for switching.

The report highlights the growing popularity
of direct banking, with 51 percent of respondents in 2010
indicating a preference for online banking, an increase from 45
percent in 2008.

In addition, 7 percent of customers report
using a mobile device to execute such transactions as checking
balances, transferring funds and paying bills.

The study analyses customer satisfaction with
the retail banking experience based on six factors: account
activities; account information; facility; fees; problem resolution
and product offerings.

No overall ‘winner’ is stated, though looking
at the top placements in the 11 regional groups, Arvest Bank, the
highest ranked bank in the Southwest region, scored the highest
rating of 835.

Frost National Bank ranks highest in the Texas
region (829), with other top ranked regional lenders including
United Community Bank in the Southeast region (815), Commerce Bank
in the Midwest (809), Northwest Savings Bank (808) in the
Mid-Atlantic region, Arvest in the South Central area (805), and in
North Central, Flagstar Bank (800).

BankAtlantic ranks highest in Florida (792),
with the remaining top rated regional ‘winners’ including Eastern
Bank (787) in New England, Bank of the West (782) in California and
Sterling Savings Bank (767) in the Northwest.

“As retail banking customers become
considerably less loyal, banks need to focus on getting the
fundamentals right,” said Michael Beird, director of banking at JD
Power and Associates.

“Banks that get back to the basics—such as
maintaining a clean branch and greeting customers upon entering—may
help to alleviate some of the distress customers are experiencing
and increase their overall satisfaction.”