High street banking giants voted worst for customer satisfaction

New Which? research reveals the best and worst financial companies for customer satisfaction.

We asked more than 5,500 members of the public, in four independent surveys, how happy they are with their current account, savings, mortgage or credit card provider. From these responses we gave 19 of the UK’s biggest financial companies an overall score.

  • High street giants Barclays, Halifax/Bank of Scotland, NatWest/RBS and Santander all had an overall score below the average of 58%, and HSBC and Lloyds just managed to scrape the average.
  • First Direct came top with an overall score of 75%, and Bank of Scotland came bottom with just 47%.
  • All five building societies we looked at had an overall score above the average of 58%.
  • Out of the four product areas, people are least satisfied with savings providers, which had an average customer score of 55%.
  • People were most satisfied with current accounts, where providers had an average customer score of 62% – although there is a big difference between the best – First Direct (85%) – and worst – Bank of Scotland (50%).
  • The Post Office, which will be entering the current account market next year, came fourth overall (68%) and second for credit cards with a score of 71%.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“These customer satisfaction scores should be a wake-up call for the high street giants who may soon find that, with quicker, easier switching, their customers are looking elsewhere. We hope the new current account switching service forces banks to fight for customers by offering better customer service and products.

“Ministers must also keep driving forward wider reforms to improve culture, standards and competition in retail banking so that banks work for customers, not bankers.”

Which? will be monitoring closely to see whether changes being introduced through the Banking Reform Bill in 2014 will give the financial services industry the shake-up it desperately needs.

Notes to editors:                          

  1. Between May and August 2013 Which? surveyed 5,500 members of the general public online in four separate satisfaction surveys to find out how they rate their current account, savings, mortgage or credit card provider. 1,631 people were asked about their current account (May 2013); 1,922 people were asked about their credit card (Aug 2013); 1,082 people were asked about their savings account (May/Jun 2013); and 1,186 people were asked about their mortgage (Jul/Aug 2013).
  2. In each product area each provider was given a customer score based on how satisfied customers said they were and how likely they were to recommend the provider to a friend. The overall score for each provider is created using relative customer scores for each product. Average customer scores for each product area include smaller providers not included in our final rankings. To be included, brands needed to offer at least two of the products we looked at and have a sample size of least 30. All of the companies we name above have customer scores for all four products, except Bank of Scotland who do not have a customer score for mortgage, and Post Office which only has scores for credit cards and savings. We chose these product areas because they are popular financial products that customers commonly hold with the same provider.
  3. Which? will be monitoring the new seven-working-day current account switching process and has developed seven tests to assess how it is working for customers:

Seven days – does the switching process work?
Willing – are more people switching?
Innovation – has it led to new products and service?
Trust – do people have more confidence in the switching process?
Competition – is this shaking up the market?
Hassle-free – what happens when things go wrong?
? – did people get a better deal and are they happy with their provider?

To see an copy of the full investigation, including all the tables, please click here

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