In the years following the financial crisis, many bank customers began to grow weary of the large banks that were credited with the collapse, and instead started to move to small banks or credit unions. Many of these more community-centered options began to see their customer base increase, and big banks have been working to regain back former clients.
So far, it seems to be working. J.D. Power and Associates released a report this month titled "2013 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study," which found that customer satisfaction improved in 2012 among retail banks, with the biggest jump within major banks. The study looked at institutions like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and spoke to more than 50,000 retail bank customers.
In all, customer satisfaction grew by 10 points on the 1,000 point index, and the biggest increase came from a 16 point increase in satisfaction with big banks in the past year.
"While big banks have traditionally had an advantage over smaller banks in terms of convenience of branch locations and technology, their disadvantage was often in the personal service customers desired," Jim Miller, the senior director of banking at J.D. Power and Associates, said in the report. "Many of the big banks have made great strides in listening to what their customers are asking for: reducing the number of problems customers encounter and, more importantly, improving satisfaction with fees."
At the same time, there were some areas in the U.S. that preferred smaller, community-based banks. Bangor Savings Bank was the top rated bank in New England, and Frost National Bank was customers' first choice in Texas.
There are tools for both large and small banks to improve customer service, now that it's clear that this can make a large difference in a banks' client base. With customer management software, employees can more easily keep track of consumer expectations, needs and history, and help staff members provide personalized service to customers. Even in a larger setting, clients can feel as if they are working with a community environment.