Do you hate Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)? How its actual customers feel about it will stun you.
Since the financial crisis, Bank of America has been the object -- and at times rightly so -- of much criticism.
So, how do the people who actually park their money with Bank of America feel about it?
The answer: Good. And it's only getting better.
Every year, Satmetrix releases its Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks, which survey more than 23,000 Americans to see what products and services they would recommend to someone else. It asks questions about brands and products across 22 different industries and spans more than 219 brands.
The way it calculates the score is relatively simple, as it takes the percent of those who are deemed "promoters" -- ranking the brand and product a 9 or 10 on the 10 point scale -- and subtracts out those who are "detractors," who rank it six or below.
And while Bank of America didn't lead the banks, 2014 marked an incredible turnaround. In the study's own words:
Bank of America's surge in loyalty continued for the second year in a row, with a 20 point increase in NPS in 2014, following a 25 point increase in 2013. This dramatic jump in loyalty has brought the bank up from worst performer in 2012 to sixth place out of the 14 banks included.
After the banking sector as a whole finally rose in 2013, after years of troubles, the study noted:
Bank of America led the rebound charge, with unprecedented increases of 34 and 25 points for their credit cards and banking ratings respectively. The jolt in Bank of America's banking NPS provides a dramatic halt to a six-year downward trend in loyalty.
The encouraging signs
Look back again at the words used to describe how the opinion of the actual customers at Bank of America has changed over the last two years: Unprecedented increases. Surge. Dramatic jump. Jolt.
Through its Project New BAC, Bank of America said it's "focusing all of its resources on serving individuals, companies, and institutional investors." While one of the key parts of the project was reducing the massive costs required to run the bank, it's important to know it was seeking to better serve its customers as well.
In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Bank of America's CEO, Brian Moynihan, said:
We've fined-tuned the business around basic principles: Who are our customers? What do they need from us? And what can we be good at?
In 2014, we've learned that its improvements in J.D Power's customer satisfaction index outpaced all the other banks. Over the last two years, Bank of America also noted the number of satisfied customers has risen by more than 10%. Knowing it has 92 million accounts, a gain of 10% means millions more happy.
All of that is to say, Brian Moynihan and the employees at Bank of America aren't simply talking about the bank becoming new, but providing evidence after evidence that the change is actually happening.
What to take away from it
I've said it before, but I have to wonder if Bank of America and Brian Moynihan are clinging to the Warren Buffett wisdom -- remember his investment in B of A is worth nearly $11 billion -- that says, "if we are delighting customers, eliminating unnecessary costs and improving our products and services, we gain strength."
More and more each day we learn Bank of America isn't just eliminating "unnecessary costs," but it's also "delighting customers." Troubles once plagued it, but it's "gaining strength," and the new Bank of America is clearly here.