Wells Fargos Latest Customer Satisfaction Scores May Surprise You

By John Maxfield Markets Fool.com

Last September, bank regulators revealed that thousands of Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) employees opened millions of fake accounts for customers, in some cases, causing them to accrue account and overdraft fees. One would think this would decimate Wells Fargo's customer satisfaction scores -- but just the opposite happened.

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A new report by J.D. Power shows that Wells Fargo performed better across the board when it came to customer satisfaction, improving its score in all 11 of the geographic regions broken out by the survey.

State/Region

Wells Fargo's 2017 Score

Wells Fargo's 2016 Score

California

807

793

Florida

831

806

Mid-Atlantic

818

790

Midwest

791

789

New England

796

769

North Central

826

801

Northwest

795

786

South Central

825

813

Southeast

816

805

Southwest

804

791

Texas

832

815

Source: J.D. Power's 2017 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Survey.

On the one hand, this isn't surprising, as Wells Fargo has been claiming all along that its customer service scores have been improving.

Here's its CEO Tim Sloan on the bank's first-quarter conference call (emphasis added):

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I want to start by acknowledging the hard work and dedication of our team members throughout Wells Fargo, who are focused on putting our customers first and helping them succeed financially. This commitment has been demonstrated through our improving Retail Banking customer service scores, record client assets in wealth and investment management, including banker-closed referrals once again reaching $1 billion a month, more primary consumer checking customers and industry-leading mortgage originations during the quarter.

Yet, if you dig into Wells Fargo's own estimate of customer satisfaction, it's clear that the fake account scandal has had an impact -- albeit a small one. While the numbers are improving since the immediate aftermath of its scandal, they're still down from this time last year.

Image source: Getty Images.

According to its analysis, Wells Fargo scored 77.6% in March in terms of customers' overall satisfaction with their most recent branch visit. This had dropped to 73.9% in October, but was 78% in August, the month before its sales scandal came to light.

So, how is it possible that J.D. Power's latest retail banking satisfaction survey showed that Wells Fargo improved its scores in all 11 regions? The answer is: All banks saw an improvement, with the average score across the regions improving by 3%. Wells Fargo, by contrast, saw its average rating grow by only 2.1%.

State/Region

Average Score-2017

Average Score-2016

California

812

786

Florida

829

805

Mid-Atlantic

816

790

Midwest

810

789

New England

800

768

North Central

821

799

Northwest

804

779

South Central

831

805

Southeast

820

805

Southwest

817

794

Texas

831

806

Source: J.D. Power.

Even according to J.D. Power, in turn, Wells Fargo has indeed seen an impact on customer satisfaction, but instead of causing it to fall since this time last year, it's just slowed its improvement relative to other banks.

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John Maxfield owns shares of Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.