Banks Are Failing in Customer Service

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When it comes to customer service, banks have an image problem.

New data from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group in Charlotte, N.C., show that one in three banking customers had a problem with their banks that was not resolved. In addition, 65% of banking consumers say their bank does not measure up with non-banking companies in terms of customer service.

In a separate study from the Temkin Group, grocery stores, fast food outlets and overnight parcel services earned the highest scores for customer service across major industries; banks were nowhere near the top here, either.

The Carlisle & Gallagher study cites Zappos and AmazonApple and Disney as the best companies for customer service in the U.S.

So why aren't banks measuring up with other industries?

In the Carlisle study, 72% of banking customers say it took multiple tries to solve a core banking problem, with 88% of consumers having to go back to the bank again and again to solve a mortgage-related issue. Credit card servicing is another sore spot, with 72% of consumers surveyed saying it took two or more "interactions" with banks to solve a credit-related problem.

Bank customers dealing with debit card and personal checking headaches fared little better, with 66% and 64% of customers having to make repeated contacts to solve a problem in those key banking areas.

It's clear banks are costing themselves money by not upping their level of customer service. About one in four bank consumers would either end their relationship or do less business with a bank if it took multiple contacts to solve a customer service problem.

Poor customer service is a big, and ongoing problem for banks, especially compared with other industries that garner high marks from consumers.

"Financial institutions have a long way to go to become great customer service organizations," says Patricia Sahm, a customer experience director at Carlisle. "In today's world of instant gratification, consumer expectations are being shaped by experiences outside of the financial services industry where content, interactions and features are richer, delivering a more engaging and rewarding experience for the consumer."