Bank of America to its 270,000 employees: Be nice

Bank of America had the worst score for customer satisfaction compared with its national rivals. As a group, they all lagged behind credit unions and regional banks.

The CEO of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, has sent a letter -- an actual letter -- to each and every one of his 270,000 employees. With the new postal rates that's more than $100,000 in stamps alone. So what was worth all that print? It boils down to this: Bank of America's customer service, the boss says, just has to get better.

Bank of America had the worst score of the four major commercial banks in a recent survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index. David VanAmburg is managing director of the index. He says the letter to employees is a good first step to improving customer service. But beyond that there needs t be a plan. "There needs to be something that says in very concrete terms the things we need to do," he said.

Bank of America hasn't announced specifics on the plan to improve customer service. But Moynihan did say in his letter that it will improve communication with customers. This isn't just a problem with Bank of America. The other major commercial banks -- JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citibank -- also scored lower in customer satisfaction than credit unions and regional banks.

VanAmburg says this is not surprising based on the last 20 years of data. "Basically the smaller you get the higher the level of customer satisfaction. There is a direct correlation with how customers are perceiving that they are being cared for."

Colin Shaw is the founder of the customer service consulting firm Beyond Philosophy. He says one way to tell if Bank of America is serious is to look at the schedules of its senior managers. "How much time do they actually spend with customers? How much time do they spend in branches? Or are the senior executive's time spent in internal meetings?"

Shaw says the bonus system also has to change. "If all of the senior execs and all of the senior managers had 100 percent of their bonuses built around the achievement of customer satisfaction, do you think that customer satisfaction would increase? Of course it would."

Bank of America employees will find out about the new plan at a companywide event on Thursday.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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