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J.D. Power & Associates is a market research firm owned by the publishing giant McGraw Hill. Most people have heard the name in conjunction with awards in the automotive industry, because J.D. Power & Associates ranks vehicles for a number of different categories for customer satisfaction. The company also began conducting customer satisfaction surveys related to credit cards in 2007.
The results of the latest survey, which gathered feedback from 20,000 credit card customers over a period of nine months, have just been announced. The input from those who were surveyed covered such things as the terms and conditions of credit cards, their rewards programs, customer service, and how well the card companies responded to and resolved cardholder complaints or problems.
Dominating the Top Spot
American Express has been a leader in customer satisfaction, owning the top spot from 2007 through 2013. When it received the best rating last year, much of the customer satisfaction was attributed to the introduction of a variety of new digital enhancements and updated product offerings. Some of those included:
- Mobile gift cards that can be purchased with membership rewards by using a smart phone
- Automatic purchase notifications and real-time account balances
- Account alerts via a Facebook app
- Enhanced benefits and services on some company cards
Discover has consistently come in at number two since 2007, so it has been a close rival of American Express since the beginning. Now, however, Amex and Discover are both tied for number one, a first for Discover. That means that American Express will have to share the prestigious position with the fast-moving and rapidly growing Discover. Customer satisfaction for both companies was stellar, and both card issuers have a well-deserved reputation for great customer service and valuable features and benefits.
Discover Rapidly Implementing Enhancements
What distinguished Discover during the past year or so that allowed them to finally catch up with Amex, however, was the accelerated pace of its improvements. As the senior director of banking services at J.D. Power explained, “Discover this year improved faster.”
That was especially true in terms of its enhancement of both online and off-line customer service, and survey respondents noted that customer service representatives are friendlier and that credit card rewards at Discover have also become easier to redeem.
Discover was a relatively lesser-known credit card brand and, within the past five years, has expanded to include more merchants, making them rival the number of merchants that accept Visa and MasterCard.
Other Key Findings
Rewards programs are among the top reasons customers choose their particular credit card. If customers had a better understanding of their rewards program, it may prevent them from shopping for a new primary card. The survey found that 10% of customers switched their primary card in 2014 and 42% switched cards for a better rewards program. Other findings include:
- 63% of customers say they “completely” understand how to earn rewards
- 21% of customers don’t know if they can earn extra rewards for specific purchases
- 43% don’t know if their rewards have a maximum limit
- 30% don’t know if their rewards have an expiration date
Mobile integration is also increasingly important since American’s are performing more tasks via mobile such as shopping and bill pay. Satisfaction among customers who use mobile is 54 points higher than among those who do not. The survey also found that satisfaction among customers who receive service alerts is 76 points higher than among those who either don’t know they are available or think they are not offered.