USAA, Citizens Bank Score Strong

Customer Loyalty Increases in New Study

Overall, GfK research finds that 25% of US bank customers are “Loyal Advocates,” while 18% are “Exit Bound”

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A new GfK Loyalty BenchmarkPlus study shows that, while a few US banks have won over their customers with excellent service and benefits, others are in imminent danger of losing up to a third of their consumer clients.

In the report – which covered 10 major US banks – USAA and Citizens Bank showed the highest year-over-year increases in overall customer loyalty (LoyaltyPlus) scores, with gains of 6 points and 3 points, respectively. Overall, four of the banks studied registered loyalty scores at or above the average of 79 points.

The LoyaltyPlus analysis takes into account current and intended behavior (likelihood to recommend, plans for future use), as well as emotional and rational ties.

The study also looks at four key segments of customers in terms of their loyalty – Loyal Advocates, Hostages (troubled by sources of dissatisfaction), Ambivalent (generally satisfied but still at risk of being lured away), and Exit Bound.

In general, all four segments have been stable year to year, with a slight increase in Loyal Advocates. Close to half (46%) of all banking customers are in the Ambivalent category – about double the percentage of Loyal Advocates (25%).

USAA (62%) and Sun Trust (30%) ranked highest in Loyal Advocates; but 18% of all bank customers are Exit Bound, with 8 of 10 banks scoring at or above the average. In two cases, roughly 1/3 of the bank’s customers are strongly dissatisfied and very likely to switch institutions.

The research also found that one-third (29%) of bank customers who own a wireless handheld device have downloaded an app from their primary bank, and that 62% of this group uses the app at least weekly.

“While the industry’s overall loyalty picture is relatively stable, some banks have cause for strong concern, “said Doug Cottings, Managing Director of GfK Financial Services. “With financial worries still high and interest rates low, customer service and other elements of the banking experience assume added importance. Maintaining a balanced understanding of loyalty performance is key to sustained success, especially in an industry where differentiators are few. And our data suggest that a focus on user-friendly mobile apps could provide a needed source of delight among savvy customers.”

The study was conducted in March and April 2012 among 3,009 members of the online GfK Consumer Panel. All participating respondents indicated that they had full or partial decision-making responsibility in their households for the category of financial services. The margin of error was 2%.

About GfK

GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights about the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating to use the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2011, GfK’s sales amounted to EUR 1.37 billion.

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David Stanton, 908-875-9844
Marketing and Communications, Consumer Experiences North America

Source: GfK