High street banks slump on customer satisfaction and complaints

Some of the UK’s biggest banks have been ranked among the poorest performers for customer satisfaction and complaints handling, according to new analysis by Which?.

Lloyds – the worst performing big bank with an overall score of 58% – is in joint bottom place with Danske Bank. The results make disappointing reading for many of the other high street banks with Barclays (59%), RBS (61%), Halifax (63%), Bank of Scotland (64%), HSBC (64%), Santander (66%), all finishing in the lower half of the table.

At the top end, Nationwide achieved an overall score of 77%, followed by AA and Metro Bank – both on 75%. In the customer score category, Nationwide was rated particularly highly by its credit card and current account customers.

Looking at customer satisfaction, Which? found:

  • Britannia (55%), which placed bottom for customer satisfaction in 2015, again finished joint last with Allianz (55%), while Ageas scored 56%.
  • Some of the biggest insurance brands were shown to have fallen down for customer satisfaction – with Allianz falling 31 places overall, while Swiftcover and Esure dropped 21 and 20 places respectively since 2015.
  • NFU Mutual received the highest overall customer score (79%).
  • Credit card providers received the highest average customer satisfaction score (68%) across the six product areas investigated.
  • The biggest improvement since 2015 was seen with Virgin Money, which jumped 29 places from 2015. Co-Operative Bank (up 25 places) and Bank of Scotland also achieved higher customer scores than two years ago.

Our complaints analysis showed:

  • The big banks dominating the lower scores: Barclays fared poorly, with an overall complaints score of 58% – just ahead of Lloyds, which came joint-bottom on 57%; level with Danske Bank. Meanwhile HSBC (69%), Bank of Scotland plc (66%) and RBS (64%) all placed in the bottom half.
  • Several brands including AA, Saga and Post Office received an impressive 100% score for the speed in which complaints were resolved. Nationwide finished fourth on 98%.
  • Looking at complaints scores alone, Saga ranked first with an impressive 85%, helping to offset its below-average score in the customer satisfaction category.

Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert, said:
“These results show a really varied consumer experience – with some real success stories, but also clear failures. Big banks suck in the lower half of the table should act quickly to put customers first.

“Our research exposes a big gap between the best and worst and should encourage consumers to make the switch to a provider that better suits them. Consumers have more choice than they think so should make the switch to a provider that better suits them, rather than putting up with a poor service.”

To measure customer satisfaction, Which? gathered more than 27,000 survey responses from customers across six different product categories. And for the first time, Which? has generated a complaints score based on the volume of complaints a provider receives, and how well it handles them. A combination of the complaints score and customer score has been used to compile a comprehensive picture of the UK’s best and worst financial brands.

To generate the complaints score, Which? analysed data from the FOS and FCA to establish performance in: complaint-handling efficiency, the number of complaints received per 1,000 customers, and how frequently they were resolved in favour of the customer.

Which? hosts guidance on how consumers can best switch their bank accounts, which can be found here: http://www.which.co.uk/money/banking/switching-your-bank/guides/how-to-switch-your-bank-account

Notes to editors

Please click here to see the full results of the best and worst financial brands

The FCA and FOS complaints data used by Which? to generate complaints scores is for the second half of 2016.

The customer satisfaction data comes from five different general public surveys (from which we generate our customer scores and Which? Recommended Providers): current accounts, savings, credit cards, mortgages, and car and home insurance, carried out between March and July 2017. To get a customer score, a brand has to have at least 30 responses. For a brand to be included in our table, it needed to have a customer score in at least two product categories, and feature in at least two complaints categories.

How to complain: If you’ve experienced poor service, or your bank has made a mistake, don’t be afraid to complain. Across all brands, FOS complaints were resolved in favour of the consumer 42% of the time:

  1. Firstly, complain to your financial services provider, explaining the problem and what action you want taken. Give eight weeks for a response.
  2. If you don’t receive a response or the resolution you want within this time, ask for a ‘letter of deadlock’ to show you’ve done all you can to resolve it.
  3. Within six months of receiving this letter, contact the FOS either over the phone on 0800 023 4567 or through the online complaint form at help.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/help.
  4. The FOS will look at all evidence provided. Once it’s made its decision, it will write to you and the company.

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