Charging Bank Fees: Three Tips for Customer Satisfaction Success

While the above video pokes fun of the current debit card fee debate, and humorously defines the potential for future fee types, we wanted to provide our readers with some sound customer satisfaction data and best practices around fees from our 2011 J.D. Power and Associates Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. The data highlights we provide below spotlight what makes customers happy or unhappy with regard to charging fees, and we thought it would also be useful to provide some tips and pointers for those banks considering a change to their current fee structures.

Tip #1: Avoid Frequent Changes in Fee Structures

82% of average bank customers were satisfied with their banks’ fees when there were no changes made to fee structures in the past 12 months as compared to only 18% of average bank customers being satisfied when there were 1 or more changes made to bank fees in the past 12 months.

  • Customers are happier when fees don’t change often
  • Infrequent fee changes limit the occurrence of fee-related problems for which employees will need to spend time resolving
  • Avoid changing fees more than once a year if possible

Tip #2: Be Proactive About Communicating Fee Changes to Customers

Only 16% of average bank customers were satisfied with fees changes when they were not notified of changes in advance, compared to 84% of average bank customers that were satisfied with fee changes when they were notified of changes in advance.

  • Notify customers about fees far in advance, preferably, at least 3 months
  • Provide a clear and concise explanation of the new fees, and don’t burry the explanation in a 50 page, bank jargon filled account disclosure
  • Be clear about the value they’ll realize for the additional fees being charged. Higher fees without enhanced value for the customer will have a greater negative impact on overall customer satisfaction

Tip #3: Perform a Needs Assessment at the Time of Account Opening

The impact of a proper needs assessment at account initiation to ensure a customer is placed in the right account at the time of account opening is often overlooked. Of the 57% of average bank customers who received a complete needs assessment at the time of account opening, 42% of them understood the fee types and account types up front, and only 7% of them reported having a fee related problem.

  • Make sure the needs of the customer match the account type they receive up front. It will save employees time having to solve fee related issues because of account type misunderstandings
  • Even a partial needs assessment at the time of account opening is better than not doing one at all….and will minimize the chances of having to change the account type to the proper one later down the road
  • Spending 5-10 mins properly assessing the needs of the customer up front will likely result in happier customers, even should their fees change again next year
The video used in this blog post was not created by J.D. Power and Associates, the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. nor does it represent the thoughts and opinions of J.D. Power and Associates, the McGraw-Hills Companies, Inc.   This video is used for entertainment purposes only.
All data in this blog post:  © 2011 J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Average bank customers, referred to in this blog post represent the industry average sample of the following:   Large Banks=475 branches or more and at least $50 billion in deposits; Medium Banks=125 – 474 branches and more than $10 billion in deposits; Small Banks=less than $10 billion in deposits.


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