Here’s a pleasant surprise—despite the credit crisis, small business owners are more satisfied with their banks than they were in 2007. Results of J.D. Power and Associates’ just-released 2008 Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study shows that small-business owner satisfaction has reached 720 on a 1,000-point scale, an improvement of 23 points from last year.

Customer relationships and “in-person branch experience” are key, according to Rockwell Clancy, executive director of financial services at J.D. Power. “Simply meeting with small business customers at their place of business significantly improves satisfaction, yet it’s amazing how rarely this happens.” There’s a revenue implication, too. “By shifting five percent of moderate/low commitment customers to levels of high commitment, banks can potentially increase their incremental revenue among small business customers by more than four percent,” J.D. Power reports. “This improvement translates to $18 million in additional revenue for every 100,000 small-business customers.”

The 10 most satisfying banks in the 2008 study were: Commerce Bank (TD Bank); Branch Banking & Trust; Bank of the West; Huntington National Bank; SunTrust; Washington Mutual; National City; Wachovia; Comerica; and Fifth Third Bank.

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