BancorpSouth earns high ranking

BY DENNIS SEID
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Even as more customers are frowning on their experiences with the banking industry in general, officials with BancorpSouth are all smiles.

On Wednesday, BancorpSouth was rated the highest in the Southeast in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. The $13.2 billion, Tupelo-based bank garnered 782 of a possible 1,000 points, outdistancing such heavyweights as Wachovia, Capital One, Bank of America and Citibank. BancorpSouth was followed by First Tennessee (774) and WaMu (768).

A report card

“This was much like a report card, and we want to get all As,” said BancorpSouth Chairman and CEO Aubrey Patterson. “We want to look at the things we do, and we want to show that we have a real value proposition for our clients. We want them to feel they get really good value for the services they need … and we want to exceed their expectations.”

BancorpSouth finished first in three transaction-related categories, which Patterson attributed to higher quality control standards.

The J.D. Power banking survey, in its third year, showed an overall industry-wide drop of 26 points from last year, to 737. Poor problem resolution, long wait times and additional fees were the main reasons for the drop.

Bank focus

“Now is the time for banks to really differentiate themselves from competitors by focusing on customer service and convenience,” said Rockwell Clancy, executive director of financial services for J.D. Power and Associates.

“Banks with higher levels of customer satisfaction will generate higher deposit growth and achieve better financial results over the long term.”

Fees were major complaints leveled by banking customers. Patterson acknowledged that fees are a concern, but noted that BancorpSouth was rated second with customers in that area in the survey.

“What we emphasize are our relationships, not commodities or products,” he said.

Access and convenience are important to retain and attract customers, and while pleased that BancorpSouth was able to achieve such a lofty ranking, Patterson said the nearly 4,500 employees of the company will continue to push to be better.

“We didn't get here by accident,” he said.

“And I think it says a lot that the center of operations for this eight-state bank is right here in Tupelo, where 700 team members are serving 300 banks.”