LONDON: Retail banks in the UK are missing out on the opportunity to create powerful advocates and attract repeat business, according to research which says that not being rewarded for loyalty is the biggest frustration for customers.

A global survey for Collinson Group polled 4,437 consumers in the top 10-15% income group across Brazil, China, India, Italy, Singapore, the UAE, US and UK and found that some two thirds (64%) expected greater recognition and reward for their loyalty.

And this lack of appreciation was even more annoying than other bank actions such as offering poor interest rates or charging unnecessary fees.

In the UK fully 83% of these affluent consumers felt their bank did not know or understand them and less than a third (27%) felt they received a high level of personal service.

Less than one third were members of a bank loyalty program, but that was not because of any objection to the concept – this group was more likely to be part of a scheme operated by a supermarket, airline, credit card or retailer than that run by a bank.

Banks are missing out on business as a result. The report said that affluent middle class consumers in the UK who feel loyal to a brand were 73% more likely to purchase a product from them in the future and six in ten would be prepared to recommend a banking brand to their friends and family.

Christopher Evans, a Collinson Group director, noted that the findings had more relevance than ever as people become more active in managing their bank accounts.

Over half of UK respondents were not satisfied with their banks and were considering, or had already, switched provider within the last two years. 

And latest industry figures show that, in July 2015, 1.1m customers switched their bank accounts, a 4% increase on the same period last year. The Financial Conduct Authority is also reported to be pushing the sector to encourage greater awareness of the customer account switch service that makes the process simple. 

"Knowing your customer and ensuring they feel valued are the key tenets of customer loyalty and banks need to act now if they are to retain their most affluent consumers," Evans said.

"Personalised, aspirational and more lifestyle-orientated benefits and rewards, which are more accessible to earn and redeem will enable banking brands to differentiate themselves and attract and retain the most affluent consumers," he added.

Data sourced from Collinson Group, Forbes, Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff