It looks like some clients aren’t too happy – we’re blaming the web

New survey reveals many clients are dissatisfied with the service from their financial advisors but it could be robo players that are to blame

New data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows that customer satisfaction continues to slide when it comes to the finance industry. The sector has fallen 0.4% to 74.8 on ACSI's 100-point scale. This is the lowest score the sector has had in a decade and it could be because of weakened satisfaction with smaller firms and online platforms.

In this financial online area, which includes robo-advisors, customer satisfaction dropped 7.3% to an ACSI score of 76. 

While this is bad for those operating across digital platforms its good news for face-to-face firms whose faith may be restored that interactive customer service is important and something actual advisors can offer more of compared to online resources.

David VanAmburg, ACSI Director said: "Customer satisfaction with Internet investment services ebbs and flows with the market, but some companies do better than others regardless of market conditions."

Credit unions are also particularly unpopular with customer satisfaction as their score is down 4.7% to a point-scale score of 81. They are struggling to stay ahead of small banks when it comes to pleasing customers. 

VanAmburg says this could be because of the influx of new members joining credit unions. With higher numbers it could be that the unions are unable to provide the level of service previously and that the increased numbers are detracting from the personal experience that had them so highly rated previously.

"Smaller, more nimble companies that can provide a more personalized experience tend to perform better than large corporations,” says VanAmburg. “This has been the advantage for the credit union industry, which for years has led banks by a wide margin in ACSI. But as credit unions add large numbers of new members, they may struggle to maintain better service levels compared with traditional banks, particularly small community banks, which now nearly tie credit unions." 

The data did show that both banks and credit unions surpassed large national banks when it comes to the customer experience. 
Advisors are not in it alone though. The report shows the same lack of satisfaction in the insurance industry too.

Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder said: "These are not happy times. Insurance companies and credit unions are joining the troubling trend of deteriorating customer satisfaction that we've seen throughout most of the U.S. economy.”

Fornell says cost cutting and increased fees could also be to blame.

“Corporations facing increasing earnings and revenue pressure keep raising premiums and fees, which, combined with cost cutting to maintain profitability, is having a negative effect on service and on customer satisfaction. What might look good on the balance sheet in the short term is not helpful for long-term prosperity."

Coming out on top Vanguard as new entrants to the ACSI Vanguard and Scottrade showed a customer satisfaction of 80 and 79 respectively.