Big banks still falling down on customer satisfaction

First Direct once again tops the table for customer satisfaction however many of the big high street banks are still stuck near the bottom as a new Which? analysis reveals the best and worst financial companies.

We asked more than 20,000 members of the public, in four independent surveys, how happy they are with their current account, savings, mortgage or credit card provider and analysed the results to find the best and worst banking providers.

  • First Direct got an impressive overall score of 74% with people saying they liked being able to speak to friendly and well-informed staff at any time of the day, without having to use an automated system.
  • All of the UK’s biggest banks came in the bottom half of the table, with the exception of Santander which came 11th with a score of 58%.
  • Satisfaction with building societies was generally high across all product areas and mutuals took six of the top 10 places. Customers said they liked that they operate in a more ethical way and are not seeking profits for shareholders.
  • Coventry Building Society (66%) and Nationwide (65%) took second and third place respectively.
  • Ulster Bank, which has suffered a number of technical issues in the past couple of years, came bottom with just 45%.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“With the high street banks failing to score top marks for customer satisfaction it’s clear they still have a long way to go to restore consumer trust. Banks must ensure they put customers first and offer genuinely good value products and services if they want to compete with the best.”

In a separate investigation, we tested the online security of the 10 biggest banks and newcomer Metro Bank, to see if they had made changes since our investigation last year found some banks were vulnerable to attacks. Several banks have improved with Nationwide moving up from seventh to first place with a score of 79% (compared to 69% last year) and Metro Bank coming second with 76%. Santander remains bottom, despite addressing a key concern and improving its score dramatically from 47% to 64%.

Notes to editors:

1.    Customer satisfaction methodology: We conducted four satisfaction surveys with over 20,000 members of the general public to find out how they rate their current account, savings, mortgage or credit card provider. 5,002 people were asked about their current account in July and August 2014; 5,138 people were asked about their credit card in March 2014; 5,004 people were asked about their savings account in July 2014; and 4,996 people were asked about their mortgage in March 2014. Each provider is given a customer score for that product, based on how satisfied customers are and how likely they are to recommend the provider to a friend. Overall customer scores for each provider were calculated by taking the mean of the unrounded customer scores for each product area. For a provider to be given an overall customer score it needed to have a minimum sample size of 30 responses in at least two product areas out of credit cards, current accounts, savings accounts and mortgages and its products must be open to new customers.

2.    Online security methodology: In July, we asked one volunteer customer from 11 UK banks to carry out a range of tasks on online banking on a single day. The results were analysed by our ethical hackers, Pen Test Partners, to look at the security weaknesses of each bank’s online services. We tested only the part of the banks’ online security that customers would see when logged in to the full version of a bank’s site. The testers focused on security measures around login/logout, payments, changes of account details, navigation (e.g. using forward and back buttons), and encryption, as well as the security advice given by each bank.

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