Poll Ranks CUs Above Banks In Satisfaction (Again)

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For the twenty-first consecutive year, members rated their satisfaction with their credit unions higher than customers rated their satisfaction with their bank in the annual American Banker/Gallup Consumer Survey.

Seventy-one percent of members described themselves as "very satisfied" with their credit union, compared with 63% of customers who said the same thing about their bank. Thrift customers rated their institutions the lowest, with just 58% saying they were "very satisfied."

While the news will generally be hailed as good by credit unions, there are some bumps in the data. Banks continue to close the gap in terms of satisfaction by customers, with the percentage saying they are "very satisfied" having risen steadily since 2000, and the number is up significantly from the 58% who were "very satisfied" in 2004. For banks, the figure was the highest recorded in 14 years. Meanwhile, the percentage of members saying they are "very satisfied" remain below their peak of almost 80% in 2000, and the number is also down slightly from 2004.

But not all was rosy for banks, either. The percentage of those surveyed who said they trust banks less than credit unions, for instance, jumped to 27% from 19%.

Overall, the American Banker/Gallup Consumer Survey found that consumers' satisfaction with their primary financial institution (regardless of type) edged up slightly to 62% this year, up from 61% in 2004. When that data is further broken out, American Banker, which is an affiliate of The Credit Union Journal, also reported that women were more likely than men to say they were very satisfied with their PFI (68% vs. 57%), and that respondents 55 and older gave the highest satisfaction marks to their PFI (67%) versus just 51% of those 18-24 who said the same thing.

Analysts credited banks' improving satisfaction score to the fact that many big banks have had several years to digest mergers, meaning consumers have adjusted to new branches, employees and pricing. In addition, the refinancing wave that was underway over the past few years, clogging lending pipelines and reducing levels of service, has also diminished. Banks have also invested significantly in improving customer service.

"The American Banker/Gallup poll shows credit unions continue to fulfill their mission, earning their members' loyalty and trust in the process," said CUNA CEO Dan Mica. "It is fortuitous the poll results have appeared on a day when Congress is hearing our testimony on credit unions' need for regulatory relief legislation and the additional authorities provided by the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act (CURIA). Passage of these bills will give credit unions the flexibility to keep providing the quality and level of service their members want and need."

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