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Harris poll shows consumers more comfortable with CUs

Big Banks may be vulnerable to losing customers to credit unions on Nov. 5, Bank Transfer Day, where according to social media, tens of thousands have signed up to drop Big Banks in favor of joining a credit union. While credit unions enjoy best in class customer retention rates (87 percent Extremely/Very Likely to Continue), the nation's largest banks fail to engender the same degrees of loyalty from their customers. For example, only two in five of Bank of America's customers are extremely or very likely to continue (40 percent), as are less than half of JP Morgan Chase's customers (46 percent) and just over half of Wells Fargo/Wachovia's customers (54 percent).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,463 adults surveyed online between Oct. 10 and 17, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

"Customers express their loyalty through their actions, but the underlying motivation for these actions is rooted in the degree to which the bank connects with its customers on both a rational and emotional level; which in turn impacts their future intentions of continuing to use and recommend their bank to others. In the Harris Poll we employed our Simple 7 approach to measuring the strength of a consumers' relationship with their primary bank. In doing so, we evaluate each bank using seven questions to reflect a customer's rational vs. emotional connection and future intentions about their banking relationship," says Carol Gstalder, executive vice president of Market and Customer Insights at Harris Interactive.

The latest results of the Harris Poll Simple 7 on Banking indicate that Credit Unions provide customers with a better overall experience than banks, particularly Big Banks. For example, Credit Union members are three times as likely as customers of Bank of America to experience a trustworthy relationship (74 percent vs. 25 percent) and feel valued as a customer (72 percent vs. 24 percent), primary drivers of a strong emotional commitment to a relationship.

Clearly the level of frustration with Big Banks is high and people are leveraging traditional and social media to share their stories. On Facebook, thousands have signed up to leave Big Banks in favor of joining a Credit Union. While the numbers showing support of the page ("liking") are not high in comparison with other pages with similar causes, almost 50% of those who like the 'Bank Transfer Day' page are forwarding, discussing and chatting on Facebook about the cause (compared with a chat percentage of 32 percent for the Occupy Wall Street movement). Perhaps some banks are beginning to listen to customer dissatisfaction given this week's retreat of monthly debit card fees. This level of consumer engagement and resulting action may indicate a groundswell of support for customers to stop being so historically passive when it comes to switching their primary bank.

Click here to read the complete Harris poll results.