by Mike Vogel
Credit unions, to the dismay of banks, have gained consumer deposits. Now, some have increased their market share in poor service, too.
Among financial institutions with the most complaints at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the two with the highest number relative to their market share in 2012 were both credit unions, Space Coast in Melbourne and Fairwinds in Orlando, according to the latest study by bank consultant Ken Thomas. Thomas says 2012 was the first time two credit unions have made his top 10. "That was a big surprise," Thomas says.
Thomas counts the total number of complaints on file with the state office and then compares the total to an institution's market share, a measure he calls the Bank Complaint Index. An index of 1.0 means an institution's number of complaints equals its market share, which means an institution is doing a "barely acceptable job with customer service," Thomas says.
Anything over a 1.0 means an institution's complaints exceed its market share. Thus, Bank of America, which had Florida's largest market share of deposits at midyear 2012, also had more complaints, 155, in 2012 than any other institution. But its index was 0.9, meaning it generated a level of complaints smaller than its market share. Meanwhile, Space Coast Credit Union had 41 complaints but had the state's worst index on the top 10 list at 7.5. The second-worst belonged to Fairwinds, whose 14 complaints earned it a 5.3.
The University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index found a similar trend nationwide in a study last year, seeing a 5.7% decline in customer satisfaction with credit unions, though credit unions remained "best-in-class" for financial services.
Space Coast Marketing Vice President Laura L. Richard says Space Coast wasn't prepared to handle the "unprecedented influx" of mortgage applications that came under a home refinance program. It took too long to process loans and its service in some cases was unsatisfactory, she says. The credit union has added staff and changed its processing to avoid future problems, she says.
Fairwinds COO Phillip Tischer says eight of the 14 complaints made to the state against Fairwinds never made it to the credit union because the credit union resolved the issue to the customer's satisfaction first. The other six were addressed too, he says.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index survey found small banks beat large banks in client satisfaction. JPMorgan Chase, among large banks, improved its score with a 6% increase in satisfaction to a level equaling its prerecession score in 2007. The bank was the leader among big banks, followed by Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America, which all posted declines. The ACSI blamed "ever-mounting" bank fees.
In Florida, Thomas found in his study, complaints against institutions were down 27% in 2012 as the economy improved, the lowest number since 2008. Mortgages, disputes, issues with loan modifications and fees were underlying causes of complaints.
Chase, the only major bank with an index above 1.0 has seen its index standing steadily improve since moving into Florida in a major way with the acquisition of the failed Washington Mutual in 2008, but it still stood at 2.0. George Acevedo, senior vice president and regional manager for Chase in the Southeast, says he hasn't seen the Thomas study but based on internal customer surveys and JD Power reports, Chase's customer service is improving. "We're clearly not where we want to be," Acevedo says.
Only Chase, Citibank and BB&T in the top 10 made progress in reducing their index in 2012. BB&T alone among the large banks had an index of 0.5 or lower, the level that banks should be ideally, Thomas says.
2012 Florida Bank Complaint Analysis
(Reported to the Division of Financial Institutions, Florida Office of Financial Regulation)
|Bank||Market Share||Complaints (2012)||% of all Complaints||Complaint Index*|
|Bank of America||18.3%||155||17.2%||0.9|
|Space Coast Credit Union||0.6||41||4.5||7.5|
|Fairwinds Credit Union||0.3||14||1.6||5.3|
|*The Complaint Index is the ratio of complaints to deposit market share. If the index is below 1, he institution is generating a smaller share of complaints than its market share.
1Capital One and General Electric do not have a retail presence in Florida but do have a significant credit card share, the likely basis for their complaints.
Source: K.H. Thomas Associates