In the public relations department, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is sorely lacking. The bank constantly puts its proverbial foot in its mouth, whether it is raising customer hackles along with new fees, or deciding not to immediately lend a hand to those caught in the path of a ferocious storm.
B of A's customer service leaves much to be desired
Two different measures of consumer sentiment gave Bank of America the lowest score of the big banks -- for two years in a row.
The just-released American Customer Satisfaction Index showed that the bank had the lowest score of its peers both this year and last, trailing the other institutions on consumer issues such as implementation of fees . B of A was the only big bank to have a lower rating now than in 2007, right before the financial crisis bloomed.
MSN Money also gave B of A the raspberry based on an online survey of 1,500 people. For 2011 and 2012, Bank of America held the top spot for the worst customer service, both as a bank and as a credit card company . Of the 150 companies rated, B of A has the dubious honor of garnering the largest percentage of "poor" responses from participants who described the bank's customer service.
How other banks fared
B of A wasn't the only bank to sink lower in its customers' eyes from one year ago. The ACSI study shows that Citigroup fell three points, and Wells Fargo decreased by two. JPMorgan was the hero, here, coming in with the top score, a four-point hike from last year.
But the big guy needn't get smug. According to the research firm , small banks ranked higher than the big banks in the satisfaction arena. Plus, one likely reason that the largest bank's rating rose is that as more discontented customers leave big banks for smaller ones, the remaining customers would naturally be less cranky. In that light, the other three banks' ratings look even worse.
One Fool's take
For B of A, the company's recent decision to nix new fees may be too little, too late. Apparently, customers still haven't forgiven the bank for the now-infamous $5 debit-card fee debacle, or possibly other, more recent faux pas such as its reluctance to waive fees for customers affected by Superstorm Sandy. Bank of America has a lot of making up to do, especially since higher ACSI results are tied to better profit levels and stock performance. It sounds like the customer satisfaction metric needs to be added to Project New BAC, don't you think?