Consumers get more satisfaction at supermarkets than at community banks, according to the American customer satisfaction index.

Though they trumpet their commitment to personalized service, community banks have slipped on the index for the third straight year, to 71, from 72 in 1997 and 74 in 1996. Supermarkets registered 74 this year, and insurance agents remained at 77.

The index, meant to measure consumers' perception of goods and services, is a collaboration of the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor, the American Society for Quality in Milwaukee, and Arthur Andersen.

Jack West, spokesman for the American Society for Quality, said consumer expectations have risen because of the strong economy.

The continued decline in community banking, he said, "reflects the depersonalization of service."

- Matt Andrejczak

Members of the Illinois Bankers Association cast a vote of confidence for its board this month by not showing up at the annual meeting.

Two years ago the board decided that the way to reverse declining attendance was to hold the event at a fancy Midwest resort instead of a plain-vanilla conference hotel. That's why last year's gathering took place at the exclusive American Club in Kohler, Wis.

But the trade group had already committed itself for July 1998 to the Adams Mark Hotel in downtown St. Louis. And sure enough, attendance was down 20%, to about 300.

Next year's convention will be back at another vacation spot, the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, in Lake Geneva, Wis., just over the border from Illinois.

-Laura Pavlenko Lutton

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