Bank Customer Switching Rates Rise Again, Fueled by Issues with Fees and Poor Service
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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 27 February 2012 — Consumer backlash against bank fees, coupled with poor service and unmet customer expectations, has fueled increases in defection rates among customers of large, regional and midsize banks, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition StudySM released today.
On the heels of "Bank Transfer Day" on November 5, 2011, the beneficiaries of the increased exodus from larger banks are primarily smaller banks and credit unions. Acquisition of new customers by smaller banks and credit unions has increased by 2.2 percentage points to an average of 10.3 percent in 2012 from 8.1 percent in 2011. Among big banks, regional banks and midsize banks, switching rates average between 10.0 and 11.3 percent, while the defection rate for small banks and credit unions averages 7.4 percent, a significant drop from 8.8 percent in 2011.
The study, which examines the bank shopping and selection process, finds that 9.6 percent of customers in 2012 indicate they switched their primary banking institution during the past year to a new provider. This is up from 8.7 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2010.
The study finds that, not unexpectedly, fees are the main reason customers shop for a new primary bank. In particular, one-third of customers of big and large regional banks cite fees as the main shopping trigger.
"When banks announce the implementation of new fees, public reaction can be quite volatile and result in customers voting with their feet," said Michael Beird, director of the banking services practice at J.D. Power and Associates.
However, according to Beird, customers weigh the price they pay against the value of their experience.
"It is apparent that new or increased fees are the proverbial straws that break the camel's back," said Beird. "Service experiences that fall below customer expectations are a powerful influencer that primes customers for switching once a subsequent event gives them a final reason to defect. Regardless of bank size, more than one-half of all customers who said fees were the main reason to shop for another bank also indicated that their prior bank provided poor service."
In capturing customers who are shopping for a new bank, several of the more successful banks achieve higher acquisition rates through the use of promotions and cash incentives. At one of the highest-performing big banks, 19 percent of customers indicate these promotions were the reason they selected their new bank. However, according to Beird, doing a good job for customers is not just about dollars, but also about loyalty and retention.
"Only 32 percent of customers who selected a new bank because of promotional offerings said they definitely would not switch banks again in the next 12 months," said Beird. "In comparison, 46 to 51 percent of customers who chose the new bank because of either good service experience or positive recommendations say they definitely will not leave within the next year."
For customers thinking about switching banks to find one that is better aligned with their expectations and needs, J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips:
- Shop around to compare terms and service before deciding on a bank, the same way you might before buying a vehicle. Don't forget about direct online banks, as their competitive fees and rates may offset any inconvenience due to lack of physical branches.
- Don't be swayed by promotion gifts/cash alone. It is more important to ensure the bank that you are selecting offers the right products to meet your needs and that the fees associated with the products are in line with what you are willing to pay.
- Read account brochures and disclosures carefully and don't be afraid to ask questions about the products you are about to open. It is important to fully understand how fees are charged and how fees can be avoided.
The 2012 U.S. Bank Customer Switching and Acquisition Study is based on multiple evaluations from 5,062 customers who shopped for a new banking account or new primary financial institution during the past 12 months. The study was fielded in November and December 2011, and includes Bank of America; Bank of the West; BBVA Compass; BB&T; Capital One; Chase; Citibank; Comerica Bank; Fifth Third Bank; Harris National Bank; HSBC; Huntington National Bank; KeyBank; M&I Bank; M&T Bank; PNC Bank; RBS Citizens; Regions Bank; Sovereign Bank; SunTrust Bank; TD Bank; U.S. Bank; Union Bank; and Wells Fargo.
About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
About The McGraw-Hill Companies
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.
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2 The defection rate for small banks and credit unions has been corrected to 7.4 percent. J.D. Power and Associates sincerely apologizes for any problems this change may have caused.