In the midst of a crisis of confidence in the banking sector, those institutions that are regarded by consumers as “friendly,” “polite” and “trusted” are most likely to be recommended, according to the latest quarterly Recommendation Index, a joint effort of Omnicom-owned word-of-mouth public relations firm Zócalo Group and M/A/R/C Research.


Leading the Recommendation Index among the most recommended consumer banks are PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, Capital One, ING, Bank of America, HSBC, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia and JPMorgan Chase—although credit unions (included as a group to reflect strong consumer sentiment for that definable category) placed second on the list overall behind PNC Bank.


The Recommendation Index represents how much more likely a brand is to be recommended positively rather than negatively, accounting for not just the volume of conversation about a brand but also the nature of the recommendation. In addition to providing an overall ranking of both positively and negatively recommended brands, the Recommendation Index also creates a score that marketers can use to compare against other brands in the same category.


Top drivers of recommendation in the consumer banking category include positive customer service experience, good interest rates, rewards programs and incentives, convenience (foremost online, followed by brand locations), and the perception of being trustworthy and dependable. 

Not surprisingly, leading causes for negative consumer word of mouth include poor customer service, followed by overdraft fees, changes to rates or services without adequate warning, the perception of being untrustworthy, and additional fees or charges.


“Positive word of mouth and recommendation are the leading drivers of a consumer’s intent to buy or purchase a product or service in most every category,” said Paul Rand, president and CEO of Zócalo Group. “Even with advanced banking products and services, successfully paying attention to basic customer service really matters for consumers.”