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VOL. 132 | NO. 92 | Tuesday, May 9, 2017

First Tennessee Gets High Marks in Customer Satisfaction Survey

By Andy Meek

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Employees of First Tennessee Bank’s parent company got a company-wide email Thursday, May 4, that began: “This morning we are announcing the largest merger in our history.”

It was sent to let employees of Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. know the company is in the process of buying Charlotte, North Carolina-based Capital Bank Financial Corp. – a $10 billion institution – in a $2.2 billion deal that will create the fourth-largest regional bank in the Southeast. Pending customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Capital Bank chairman and CEO Gene Taylor was in Memphis at First Horizon’s Downtown headquarters as that email was sent. The email went on to tout benefits of the deal, including bringing “a significant number of new customers” into the First Tennessee orbit – the day after First Tennessee got high marks in the latest J.D. Power U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.

After a series of employee town halls across the state May 4, starting this week First Tennessee is hosting a series of receptions in Capital Bank markets so First Tennessee executives can meet their employees. It’s an early step toward integrating Capital Bank with what the latest J.D. Power study shows is the top-ranked bank by customer satisfaction among the five largest banks in the Memphis area.

Following First Tennessee, in descending order, were Regions, SunTrust, Bank of America and BancorpSouth.

The study results were based on responses from more than 78,000 retail banking customers of 136 of the largest banks in the U.S.

According to Paul McAdam, senior director for regional banking at J.D. Power, “While smaller banks receive high marks for in-person branch service, the large banks have steadily improved in-person service levels and have developed strong digital banking satisfaction.”

As an example of that digital focus, Bank of America a few months ago added a new feature within its mobile banking app that lets customers send, receive and request money using the existing contacts on their mobile device, regardless of where they bank. Bank of America also celebrated its 10th anniversary of mobile banking in March.

Today, the bank says, it counts nearly 22 million active mobile users and more than 3.7 billion logins per year.

At Regions, that emphasis on technology has been on similar display. When the company unveiled a reimagined branch a few weeks ago at its West Tennessee headquarters at 6200 Poplar Ave., for example, it included high-tech touches like video banking capabilities.

Regions now offers video banking there in the lobby, along with video banking ATMs in the drive-through adjacent to the building. Video-banking ATMs connect customers with a Regions Video Banker via live, two-way video, which lets bankers talk directly with customers and process most teller transactions, in addition to helping people with account maintenance and general inquiries.

Regions, according to the bank’s West Tennessee president David May, is always looking for ways to update “services and technology to provide more convenient access to banking.”

Among other key findings of the J.D. Power study, which carry relevance across institutions:

• Brick-and-mortar branches are still important. Overall satisfaction across all customers in the study was higher among those who visited a bank branch in the past 12 months versus those who did not. That satisfaction was measured on a 1,000-point scale, with the branch visitors pegged at 824 points versus 797 points from those who hadn’t visited a branch in the past 12 months. Also, the study notes, almost 80 percent of new accounts are opened inside branches.

• Banks have to be good at both tech and retail. Mobile banking, for example, is seeing widespread adoption, according to the study – 49 percent of millennials, 31 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of baby boomers. Meanwhile, despite that prevalence, 71 percent of all bank customers still visited a branch an average of 14 times over the past year. Even tech-savvy millennials, who visited an average of 11 times over the past year, according to the study.

PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289