Bank Of America Dead Last In Customer Satisfaction Study

The folks at the American Customer Satisfaction Index have released their latest report on the banking industry and for the sixth year in a row, credit unions and small banks have outscored all the large financial institutions. And for the second consecutive year, Bank of America is bringing up the rear.

There are too many credit unions, and none of them as widely used as any of the biggest banks, for the ACSI to break out into individual institutions. But credit unions as a whole scored an 82 (out of 100) on the Index. That’s down 5.7% from last year’s record-high number for the sector, though it’s 5 points better than the entire bank sector, which scored an average of 77.

That bank number is buoyed by the Index score for small banks, which averaged a score of 79. It’s worth noting that the ACSI score for small banks has remained between 78 and 80 since 2004. The last time an individual large bank received a score higher than the small bank average was in 2006, when Wachovia’s 80 represented the high-water mark for the industry.

“As more customers move from large banks to smaller banks and credit unions, the overall customer satisfaction level for banks goes up as a matter of mathematics,” says ACSI founder Claes Fornell. “As the smaller banks do a better job with customers and therefore attract more of them, customer satisfaction for banks on the whole gets a boost.”

As for those large banks, Chase was the only one of the four majors in the survey to show year-over-year improvement, with an impressive 5.7 point jump to lead the biggies with a score of 74. Last year, Wells Fargo and Citi had tied for the leads with each scoring a 73 on the Index, but Wells dropped nearly 3% while Citi took the biggest hit of the group, dropping more than 4% in one year.

But that still wasn’t a steep enough decline to beat out Bank of America for bottom of the barrel. Not only did BofA come in last with a score of 66 — the lowest score on the entire Index since the bank tanked with a 63 in 2000 — its numbers continue to slide, down 2.9% from 2011.

“The total fees from overdraft charges alone in 2011, most of them from big banks, amounted to more than $30 billion,” says Fornell. “Customers increasingly are rejecting the ever-mounting fees charged by large banks and taking their business to credit unions instead. Bank of America, in particular, stands out as the only bank that is still below its prerecession customer satisfaction level. It is clear that this is mostly because of fees. Customer satisfaction was probably set to deteriorate further as additional fees were in the making until a few weeks ago, when BoA backed away from the idea.”

You should check out the entire results HERE, if only to look at the historical data to see all the banks that have been acquired or simply vanished in the last 18 years.