Customers Agree: Bank of America Needs Better Customer Service

Bank of America almost always tops the list when it comes to the worst customer service. Why can’t it improve?

Jul 26, 2014 at 7:39AM

Bank Of America

It's been a while since there has been an opinion poll noting how awful Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) performs when it comes to customer service. Now, the site 24/7 Wall St. has come up with a newly minted survey that shows that the low opinion of the general public toward the big bank hasn't improved much at all since the early days of the financial crisis.

In the 2014 Customer Service Hall of Shame, not only did B of A come in first in customer dissatisfaction, but it managed to show up twice in the top five – due to the administration of a separate set of survey questions regarding the consumer service in its credit card division.

Attempts to placate customers hasn't helped
It's not that Bank of America's management is unaware of how scornfully they are regarded. CEO Brian Moynihan has tried, in the past, to remake itself in an effort to become more palatable to its customer base. Though Moynihan began 2013 with a new "customer-friendly" paradigm at B of A, the program doesn't appear to have made a dent in the hostility people feel toward the bank.

Outwardly, the bank appears to be trying to make a better impression. In March of this year, Bank of America introduced a new checking account service called Safe Balance, targeting younger, less affluent customers. Since the bank was still feeling the sting from the debit card fee fiasco in 2011, the new product was widely introduced only after 18 months of scrupulous research, including lots of customer feedback.

It is at the bank-to-customer level, however, where Bank of America still stumbles badly. Looking over some of the more recent posts to B of A's Facebook page, there are no shortage of complaints about various aspects of the bank's business model and service. Of course, that's true of Wells Fargo, too – Wells comes in at No. 10 on the Hall of Shame list.

The types of gripes about Bank of America are somewhat different, though, often reflecting consumers' frustration with trying to communicate with customer service representatives. Additionally, many posters are upset about an ongoing problem that they claim the bank itself created -- such as accidentally cancelling a customer's account, or debiting payments twice – which then plunges them into a nightmare situation where they cannot get satisfaction.

Clearly, Bank of America has a lot of work to do with consumers if it is to return to its former glory. Perhaps the fix might involve better training of its front-line employees and customer service reps, or even adding a layer of managers whose sole duty is to make certain that problems get solved. In any event, B of A needs to make this issue a priority – before it's too late.

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Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America, Facebook, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Facebook, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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