In a recent survey carried out by Watchdog, the BBC’s consumer affair programme, the Co-operative Bank and its online subsidiary, Smile, took third and second place respectively.
Over 13,000 viewers were asked to rate the current account and customer service standards of 45 different banks and building societies.
Respondents to the survey then named the bank which they use most frequently or feel the strongest about, for their day-to-day banking.
First place was taken by the Internet bank, First Direct, but of the High Street banks, the Co-operative was well ahead of market leaders such as Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Royal bank of Scotland, and Halifax.
The majority of Co-operative customers gave their bank a high rating for the level of improvement in service since they opened accounts: sixty per cent said that the bank’s current account service was either improved or much improved.
Customer satisfaction with Smile was particularly marked, with over 90% of its customers saying that they would recommend Smile Internet banking to their friends and family.
The same proportion of Smile customers said they were happy with the level of clarity and transparency in its policies and charges.
Both the Co-operative Bank and Smile were also rated highly with regard to customer complaints.
A substantially higher than average proportion of their customers said that any problem they had was easily, or very easily, resolved.
The results could have been even better because the Co-op’s ethical banking practices were not taken into account in the survey.
In this area the bank has been an innovator, having launched its customer-led ethical policy in 1992.