Regions customers find satisfaction

Survey gives bank highest ratings for friendliness; Suntrust finishes close second

Friday, January 14, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 2
ANDY MEEK | The Daily News

Bank customers are apparently more likely to get service with a smile when they step into a Regions Bank branch as opposed to any other large U.S. financial institution.

That’s according to the results of the Prime Performance 2010 Bank and Credit Union Satisfaction Survey from Prime Performance, a Colorado-based group that advises banks on how they can improve client experiences.

The survey also found that Regions has the “highest customer satisfaction levels” among banks of comparable size. On the low end of that scale were banks like Citibank, Capital One and Chase, all of which were regarded as among the “least friendly.”

On a list of banks ranked by their slice of the Memphis-area customer deposit share, Regions is second only to First Tennessee. Regions’ holding company is based in Alabama but has significant Bluff City ties.

Regions’ investment banking unit, Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., is based in Memphis. Years ago, Regions merged with Memphis-based Union Planters.

Regions Bank seems to have a successful recipe for customer satisfaction,” wrote Prime Performance president Jim Miller in an overview of the survey. “(Regions has) representatives who enjoy their jobs, who are friendly and who are genuinely interested in helping their customers. By focusing on the emotional connection between representative and customer, banks of any size can gain a competitive advantage.”

The survey polled more than 6,000 customers of credit unions, small banks, large banks and three ultra-large banks: Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo. The customers polled had recently opened a new account, performed a teller transaction or spoken to a call center representative.

The survey shows Regions received the highest friendliness score from customers at 98 percent. Close behind that, with a score of 97 percent, were SunTrust, credit unions and small banks with less than 20 branches.

In some respects, the survey is indicative of the fact the customer experience at banks is particularly important now. Banks tempted to add new fees and revenue-generating items to make up for what they lost during the recession and what they stand to lose under new financial reform legislation could spur otherwise loyal customers to seek greener pastures.

Thus, the importance of the “emotional connection” Miller notes.

Regions’ peers in Memphis are taking the same path in their own way – some with actions that include shoring up ties with employees. First Tennessee and its Memphis-based parent company First Horizon National Corp., for example, recently touted a pair of industry distinctions.

First Tennessee announced it has been named to the list of 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in America by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. First Tennessee provides guidance and financial support to its employees who choose to adopt.

Also, a few months ago First Horizon announced it had earned a 16th consecutive appearance on the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list.