Big UK banks fail satisfaction test

18 September 2012

LONDON: Major banking brands have fallen behind rivals like online-only providers and major retailers when it comes to customer satisfaction with financial services in the UK.

Which?. the not-for-profit group, polled a combined 48,826 people about their current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and mortgages, with the analysis covering 30 of the industry's largest brands.

Across all of these services, participants awarded their own provider an average rating of 62%. Totals peaked at 67% for credit cards, compared with a low of 54% for savings accounts.

First Direct, the online and telephone bank owned by HSBC, recorded the highest overall score, on 86%. It also posted the best figures for all of the product areas assessed.

The One Account, a unit of RBS specialising in current accounts and mortgages, claimed second on 80%. It came in ahead of the Co-operative Bank, which offers a full slate of services on 79%.

Smile, the internet bank, claimed fourth on 78%, while the Coventry Building Society delivered 74%, a total it shared with ING, the Dutch multinational.

Among the country's "big four" banks, HSBC yielded the best returns, on 60%. Barclays secured 54% and Lloyds registered 51%. RBS secured 50%, while NatWest, part of the same group, generated 56%.

Many other high-street players fell below the average, including Santander, which was bottom of the charts on 46%. The Halifax and the Bank of Scotland – together forming another major group – were on 48% and 49% in turn.

Several non-traditional providers outperformed their more established competitors in this area. The banking services offered by Marks & Spencer, the retailer, received a rating of 67%, for example.

Equally, Tesco Bank, run by the supermarket giant, logged 63%, while Sainsbury's Finance, from another such chain, posted 61%. Saga, the magazines-to-holidays group targeting buyers over 50 years old, supplied an even stronger 74%.

"Our survey shows that those banks that go the extra mile to keep their customers happy are rated far higher than banks who may offer slightly better products or interest rates. All banks need to start putting customers first," said Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?

Data sourced from Which?; additional content by Warc staff