It's fairly well known that, when it comes to having a reputation for being insensitive to customers, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) pretty much takes the cake. This perception is based on several public relations disasters, and CEO Brian Moynihan has recently begun a high-profile campaign to ramp up customer satisfaction. Now, however, there is proof that the bank's efforts to polish its image -- despite intermittent setbacks -- is working.
Efforts are duly noted
The Harris Poll 2013 Summary Reputation Quotient Report notes that, even though B of A is still in the bottom five of the rankings, the bank made the greatest strides in positive reputation metrics of any company listed. The measurements used to grade the 60 companies in the study used such criteria as admiration, respect, and trust -- not the kind of description you would normally associate with Bank of America. Still, the bank made progress in each category, no mean feat.
To be fair, other financials are lounging at the bottom of the rankings, too. AIG (NYSE:AIG), not surprisingly, came in dead last, while JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) sits at No. 53, and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)takes up slot No. 52. Citigroup(NYSE:C), at No. 55, is only one slot above B of A, which resides at position No. 56. While both JPMorgan and AIG experienced some improvement in their reputation quotient since last year, AIG hasn't budged from its No. 60 slot for the past three years.
This facelift has been in the works for a while now
B of A has been concerned about its crummy reputation for some time. The bank has a de facto image officer in Anne Finucane, who has been at the company for nearly 20 years. Although she has a reputation for being a no-nonsense taskmaster, blunders such as the $5 debit fee debacle and the more recent online, mobile, and telephone outage happened on her watch.
Perhaps that's why Moynihan has stepped up the program a bit lately. To be sure, the bank has had some recent coups in addition to the Harris study. Its branch service has received accolades, and a recent article notes how the bank is making exemplary service at branch locations a priority.
Progress may be halting, but it is definitely taking place
Has Bank of America really turned over a new leaf? I think Moynihan has the right idea, but the beast won't be tamed with a wish. Many of these problems are deep-seated, and the still-frequent backsliding shows just how much farther the bank has to go. But the behemoth is definitely trying, and results are beginning to show. And, for that, I think Moynihan deserves all the credit.
Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American International Group and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of American International Group, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo and has the following options: Long Jan 2014 $25 Calls on American International Group.
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