Despite banks being blamed for our economic woes, their retail customers are happier with the service they receive than a year ago, according to the J D Power and Associates 2011 UK Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.
HSBC’s First Direct takes first place with a score of 774, followed by The Co-operative Bank (734) and Nationwide (723).
The study takes account of six factors in all: problem resolution; account activities; fees; product offerings; account information; and branch facility.
Overall satisfaction among retail banking customers has nudged up to 698 on the 1,000-point scale (2010: 683) with the branch facility factor helping to drive the improvement.
However, satisfaction remains relatively low in three key areas: fees, product offerings and problem resolution.
In fact, 55% of customers who have had a problem or complaint in the past year said they are disappointed with the resolution process.
In addition, customers who experienced a problem were considerably more likely to have experienced a change in fee structure in the past year.
J D Power’s director of the services and emerging industries division, Stuart Crawford-Browne, comments: “Retail banking customers tend to be especially dissatisfied with overdraft fees and monthly service charges, particularly the amount of these fees.”
The findings also suggest that while incentives are important in attracting new customers, customer service is key to retention.
Fifteen percent of respondents said that they selected a particular bank because of an incentive, such as a promotional gift or cash award.
However, nearly 40% of customers left their bank because of a poor service experience, and an additional 43% cited poor service as a top reason for intending to leave their bank.
This year’s survey was based on responses from 3,899 customers of banks throughout the UK and was fielded in September and October.