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Contact: Jessica Hamel
  +1.978.474.6464 x107
  jhamel@athpower.com


OVERALL SATISFACTION RATES ON THE RISE AMONG RETAIL BANKING CONSUMERS
ath Power Study Reveals Customer Service Is Improving Though Other Issues Remain

Boston, MA [December 18, 2012] -- ath Power Consulting, a leading financial services research and strategy firm, today announced the results of its 2012 ath Power Ideal Banking Study™, a detailed assessment of the retail customer experience at banks nationwide. Findings from the annual study show that 41% of customers are satisfied overall with their primary banking institution, a notable rise from last year's average of 37%. Credit unions continue to achieve much higher satisfaction and advocacy rates compared to large regional and national banks. For the third year in a row, USAA ranked highest in overall satisfaction.

Study results reveal higher satisfaction levels in areas related to banker behavior and general quality of customer service. Although the nation's largest banks still trail smaller banks and credit unions in the customer service category, they showed a respectable increase in satisfaction in 2012. Among the Top-4 U.S. banks, Chase made the most significant year-over-year climb with a 14-point increase.

"Over the past few years, financial institutions have been driven to become more customer-centric in an effort to retain current customers and attract new prospects - a response to a tougher regulatory environment and added competition from non-traditional sources," stated Frank Aloi, ath Power CEO. "Our research indicates that these initiatives are beginning to pay off. Even so, there are still numerous areas that show need for improvement, including proactive communication with customers and problem resolution."

While customer experience factors recurrently differentiate highly satisfied and loyal customers, convenience factors are often the initial reason for choosing a bank, according to ath Power's ongoing research. Despite recent shifts by many banks to eliminate it, free checking, along with online banking and direct deposit are universally desired as primary banking needs. Similarly, mobile banking is rapidly moving toward essential product status with current adoption at 36%, up from 21% in 2011.

The ath Power Ideal Banking Study™ also examines the consumer likelihood to switch banks. In the past year, 10% of customers changed their primary banking institution. Top reasons for switching include new/raised fees, dissatisfaction with customer service, home relocation and account errors. Customers of Top-20 banks are three times more likely to switch to another financial institution than credit union members. The greatest influencing factors customers indicate might provoke them to switch are loyalty/rewards programs, reduced fees on checking accounts and special offers to join.

About the Study
Now in its fifth year, The 2012 ath power Ideal Banking Study™ ranks the most sought-after elements in a consumer banking relationship, and reveals how U.S. banks are performing within the highly competitive retail banking landscape. Survey respondents rated their primary banking institution on an array of dimensions including customer service, product offerings, loyalty programs, cross-sell attempts and problem resolution dynamics.

Please visit http://www.athpower.com/services/ideal-banking.php to learn more or order this report.

About ath Power Consulting
ath Power Consulting is a premier provider of customer experience solutions for the financial services industry, offering survey research, audit and mystery shop study, competitive intelligence, market analyses, training and development, and strategic brand planning. ath Power owns the largest panel of financial services field representatives, and executes more proprietary banking audits than anyone in the industry. Since 1997, our fully customizable solutions have helped improve customer retention, build brand loyalty, ensure compliance and increase profitability, performance and market share for financial services organizations across North America. To learn more, please visit www.athpower.com.

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Media Contact:
Jessica Hamel
ath Power Consulting
978-474-6464 Ext. 107
jhamel@athpower.com



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