"Given the mistrust and anger that consumers currently have toward the financial services sector, customer advocacy has never been more relevant," said Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Bill Doyle in a statement. "Customer advocacy has to be more than just a marketing message. Smart firms have used it as a guiding operating principle to win back the confidence of American consumers."
Perennial favorites USAA and State Farm Insurance remain the highest-rated companies, while former high flyers Vanguard and Edward Jones have slipped, and full-service brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley have skidded toward the bottom of the rankings. The sixth annual survey of more than 5,000 households was conducted in the second half of 2008.
Customer advocacy is the perception on the part of customers that financial services firms do what's best for them, not just the firm's own bottom line, according to Forrester. It drives retention and deepens customer relationships. Consumers who rate their firm high with regard to customer advocacy are more likely to save more, borrow more, and buy other products from that firm, and are less likely to switch to another financial services company.
Forrester's 2009 Customer Advocacy rankings include more than 40 financial services firms. Only eight of these firms or independent representatives had more than half of their customers rate them high on customer advocacy:
2. Credit unions
3. Independent financial advisors
4. State Farm Insurance
5. Independent insurance agents
6. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company
7. Regional or local banks