Outpacing banks, credit unions ranked highest in loyalty, expectations, value perceived

Credit unions are ranked first in customer satisfaction, significantly outpacing all other financial institutions, according to findings released yesterday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The credit union customer satisfaction score of 85 is first among financial institutions and notably higher than the average bank score of 76.

People doing business at credit unions are referred to as "members" rather than customers, reflecting the cooperative structure of the member-owned financial institutions. However, the ACSI scoring accurately gauges the sentiments of credit union members and customers of other financial institutions.

For the seventh consecutive year, the ACSI report ranked credit unions substantially above banks in every component measured. The report found that credit union members have higher expectations of their institution than bank customers, and while member expectations have continued to rise at credit unions, so has member satisfaction. The likelihood that a member will continue to do business with the credit union is nearly 20 percent higher than all others measured in the survey. Additionally, the report found that the rate of complaints at credit unions is less than half that of banks.

"The ACSI score demonstrates how and why credit unions are the best financial partners for American consumers," said William J. Mellin, president and CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York. "Here in New York, the state's credit unions continually look for ways to enhance the value of credit union membership, and remain completely dedicated to member service."

According to the index, credit unions rank first in the following categories:

• availability of products and services;
• ease of making account changes;
• interest rate competitiveness;
• understanding account information; and
• courtesy and helpful staff.

Credit union members' perception of the quality of service received for each dollar spent is also much higher than banks, according to the ACSI survey results.

The ACSI report aligns with other rankings that put credit unions at the top of their field, including a recent Harris Poll that found steady consumer trust in credit unions, while consumer trust of banks was in decline. In August, the Chicago Booth Kellogg School Financial Trust Index showed that consumers trust credit unions more than banks. The index, which is sponsored jointly by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, showed consumer trust in credit unions was twice as high as consumer trust in big banks.

ACSI is the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the U.S. The index measures the satisfaction of U.S. household consumers with the quality of products and services offered by both foreign and domestic firms with significant share in U.S. markets.