Zócalo Group: PNC Bank, credit unions top recommended banks

CHICAGO: PNC Bank is the most recommended consumer bank, according to Zócalo Group's latest Recommendation Index.

CHICAGO: PNC Bank is the most recommended consumer bank, according to Zócalo Group's latest Recommendation Index. The second quarterly index analyzed which consumer banks were recommended the most and what were the drivers of recommendation.

Paul Rand, president and CEO of the Omnicom word-of-mouth agency, explained the index wanted to look at banks after previously analyzing casual dining restaurants.

"There are plenty of discussions happening about consumer banking," he said, "and we also know that banks spend a tremendous amount of money working to recruit new retail customers." The index not only looked at the volume of conversation about certain banks, but balanced the positive versus negative word of mouth.

Conducted with MARC Research, the index found positive customer service experience, good interest rates, and rewards programs to be the top drivers of positive recommendations. Negative word of mouth was driven by poor customer service experiences, overdraft fees, and changes to rates or services without adequate warning.

Randy Wahl, EVP and director of advanced analytics for MARC, said, "When people are making decisions, one of the biggest reference points they have is talking to friends and family about their recommendations, what their experiences are, what they are using."

"We were trying to get at what the quality is of the conversation that is going on," he said. "When they are being talked about, how much of it is driving their business in terms of people making recommendations."

The index listed credit unions in general as the second-most recommended bank, followed by Wells Fargo, Capital One, and ING.

"We went into this looking for brand names," Rand noted about the surprise inclusion of credit unions. "What we found was that credit unions as a category were so frequently mentioned, that it would have been a mistake not to [include them]."

Rand added the index results can be used by marketers to plan communications and strategy when it comes to driving word of mouth.

"Many of these things that are driving perceptions and recommendations are communications-based issues; the idea of being untrustworthy," he said. Marketers then need to figure out, "does that become a more prominent part of my brand positioning? I need to make sure I'm proactively dealing with any challenges that come up in these areas."

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