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Dutch treat: Rabobank tops California bank satisfaction survey

April 19, 2012|By E. Scott Reckard
  • A Rabobank bicycle team trains in France. The Dutch bank came out on top in the race for customer satisfaction in California, the J.D. Powers research firm says.
A Rabobank bicycle team trains in France. The Dutch bank came out on top in… (Michel Spingler / Associated…)

The latest survey on bank satisfaction from J.D. Power researchers in Westlake Village has new details about how customers think fees stink and also ranks California's best-loved banks. As you might guess, they are not major U.S. financial institutions.

In first place for the second year is Rabobank, a Dutch giant that has branched out into many California agricultural centers. Rabobank, a specialist in farm lending (it puts out news releases about nut sales), racked up 803 points on a scale of 1,000. That ranked it "among the best"  in the Powers survey of Golden State customers.

“Earning the top spot in California for the second straight year shows that we’re on the right path,” Mark Borrecco, Rabobank’s executive vice president of community banking, said in an email after the survey was released Thursday morning. “We’ve worked hard.”

In second place was California Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of Utah's Zions Bancorporation, with 783 points, followed by U.S. Bank of Minneapolis (774) and San Francisco's Bank of the West (770), the latter a subsidiary of France's BNP Paribas.

Two more San Francisco banks, Wells Fargo and Union Bank, were in fifth and sixth place with scores of 755 and 747, above the California average of 739. (Union's Japanese parent company is Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi UFJ.)

Down the ladder were JPMorgan Chase (735) and Citibank (727) of New York, and Charlotte, N.C.'s ever-popular Bank of America (710).

Some comment from the banks:

  • U.S. Bank said it has doubled its California branches to 668 in recent years and makes customer experience “a priority.”  "We are pleased that our customers find value in the banking services we provide,” said Sean Foley, the bank’s president for Southern California.
  • Wells Fargo: “We believe our most important feedback comes from our customers.  In the first quarter of 2012 customers rated their experience in our retail banking stores at an all-time high, a major accomplishment given the integration activities in many communities over the past year.”
  • Chase: “Across the organization, we are focused on enhancing the customer experience.  We are listening to our customers and making improvements every day. There is still plenty of work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
  • Bank of America: “We are diligently working to provide greater value for our services and decrease the number of problems our customers experience. Last year’s implementation of [a program] designed to capture and respond to customer issues has proven to be effective in reducing customer complaints.”
  • Citibank: “We are encouraged by the progress and momentum that Citi demonstrated in the findings. … While we recognize there is still progress to be made, the results show that our customer-centric strategy is the right model for our business.  We put the customer at the center of everything we do.“
  • California Bank & Trust: “Our promise to our customers is to make connections and build relationships with them.  We do this by acknowledging, listening and connecting with customers during every interaction.  We appreciate that our customers and the community noticed the difference.”

Trend of the year: banking via smartphones, which 16% of respondents reported doing compared to 10% last year.

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