NEW YORK JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) ranked first in a small business customer satisfaction survey in three of four regions of the United States, a sharp improvement from 20th place nationally two years ago, research firm J.D. Power and said on Wednesday.
The bank raised its ranking through changes to its customer service, which was previously slow to fix problems. Clients complained about having to deal with a different staff member every time they called the bank so JPMorgan assigned relationship managers to many customers, giving them a single point of contact, said Scott Geller, JPMorgan's chief executive for its small business unit.
The top ranking may also have been because of a simpler factor, namely branch hours and locations, said Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power.
Small businesses still have a lot of cash and paper checks to deposit, so they need convenient branches, Miller said. He noted that in the Northeast, where JPMorgan ranked fifth, the bank that was first is the one that keeps its branches open for the most hours each week, Toronto-Dominion Bank's TD Bank. (TD.TO)
JPMorgan has continued to spend money to add and remodel branches in recent years even as other banks have closed offices to cut costs and take advantage of customers doing more of their transactions with mobile devices.
The bank, which lends to small businesses through its 5,600 Chase branches, ranked above other lenders in the Midwest, West and South, J.D. Power said.
"A couple of years ago they were performing near the bottom," said Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power. "They have made a dramatic improvement in a short time."
JPMorgan's Geller said he is setting out to learn how TD Bank beat his bank in the Northeast in the survey. "We will give a good hard look at TD's results," Geller said.
(Reporting by David Henry in New York. Editing by Dan Wilchins and Andrew Hay)