I'd been living in New York for two years before I finally closed the savings account I had with a regional bank in my Missouri hometown. The paperwork to make it official wasn't what held me back — it was that I'd be closing out my very first bank account, where I recognized the faces of the tellers on each visit, in lieu of a multinational institution found on every block in NYC.
Turns out, the sentiment of being able to visit a local branch to do your banking is more popular than you'd think, according to a new J.D. Power survey measuring retail banking satisfaction. The 2017 study found that customers who were most satisfied with their banking experience had visited a branch in-person within the past 12 months. In fact, 71% of all bank customers said they had visited a branch an average of 14 times in the past year.
Even Millennials — yes, us glued-to-our-phones Millennials — reported higher satisfaction when we could combine both in-person and digital experiences (whether mobile or online) to fulfill our banking needs.
What's also interesting is that compared to 2016, smaller banks won out over the big ones this year. The study calls out the top banks in 11 regions across the country, and last year names like U.S. Bank, TD Bank, UMB Bank and the like were tops. Compare that to this year's top-ranked banks by region, which are far more localized than the aforementioned ones:
California: BBVA Compass
Florida: Fifth Third Bank
Mid-Atlantic Region: Huntington National Bank
Midwest Region: Wintrust Community Bank
New England Region: Rockland Trust
North Central Region: Huntington National Bank
Northwest Region: Banner Bank
South Central Region: U.S. Bank
Southeast Region: United Community Bank
Southwest Region: BancFirst
Texas: Frost Bank
These findings may mean that people are less willing to go all-digital with their banking services, and what's more, they're more satisfied when they bank locally. After all, there's just something about saying "hi" to the same teller who deposits your paychecks through college, or helps you write out the cashier's check for the deposit on your first apartment.
The study, which measures satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale, takes six factors into consideration: account information, channel activities, facility, fees, problem resolution and product offerings.