UK banking brands fall short

29 May 2012

LONDON: Banking brands in the UK are failing to meet the needs of their customers, a majority of which feel misunderstood and let down by the standard of service they receive.

KPMG, the advisory group, and One Poll, the research firm, surveyed 2,000 adults in the country, and found only 13% of respondents agreed that "banks understood their needs".

In further demonstration of this trend, a small 21% of people questioned proved "very satisfied" with their main bank or building society and a modest 19% were "highly likely to recommend" these firms.

Another 15% of the panel felt "strong loyalty" to their current account provider, with figures hitting 26% for individuals aged 55 years but over ten percentage points lower for 25-34 year olds.

Moreover, 45% of interviewees will "ignore" their main bank when next buying a financial product, and 29% "resented" attempts to sell new services by providers.

Elsewhere, precisely a quarter of contributors believed the firm they did business with was "proactive in offering new or better ways to bank".

Only 13% of customers that had tried mobile banking gave this channel a positive experience rating, standing at 33% for clients that had downloaded attendant smartphone apps.

The service provided in branches did little better, as a relatively meagre 22% of the sample were "very satisfied" here, rising to 37% for online banking, but 15% for the telephone equivalent.

Among the other findings from the study were that just 8% of 25-34 year olds "trust their bank to do the right thing for me", reaching 19% for over-55 year olds.

Similarly, a 14% share of 25-34 year olds would change bank simply "to try something new", more than double the 6% logged by their counterparts aged at least 55 years old.

As an example of the knock-on effects, a limited 39% of 25-34 year olds used their main bank for home insurance policies, versus 69% of people above 55 years old. These totals stood at 48% and 63% for credit cards respectively.

"Frustration is bubbling under the surface, but banks are currently holding on to their customers as there are no 'stand out' alternatives," Mark Guinibert, customer and channel partner at KPMG, said.

"New players may make the choice to switch an easier one, if they can offer flexible approaches and products that meet different customer needs. It's a possibility that should not be dismissed, and one which means we could soon witness a change to the face of banking."

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff