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High-street banks failing on customer satisfaction

Consumer views of the big banks remains low

The UK’s biggest banks remain among the worst for customer satisfaction, according to a new report by Which?.

Over the last year, Which? members have rated 30 of the biggest financial brands for customer satisfaction across current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and mortgages.

All the major high-street banks score below average in the latest customer satisfaction ratings, yet between them they dominate the UK banking market, accounting for more than 80% of the current account market.

Big banks failing on overall satisfaction

Santander maintained its position at the bottom of the pile, scoring just 46%, with Halifax not far behind on 48%, which was also well below the average score of 62%. Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Natwest and HSBC were all rated poorly too.  

Royal Bank of Scotland has performed consistently poorly in Which? surveys over the past three years and came 27 out of 30 for overall brand satisfaction this year with a score of just 50%, despite launching its customer charter two years ago to make it ‘Britain’s most helpful bank.’

Customer satisfaction lowest among savers

Savings account customers are unhappiest with what their bank has to offer. Many are frustrated that loyalty doesn’t seem to pay and complain that they have to check up on interest rates and switch accounts to get the best deals.

Earlier this year Which? revealed that UK customers are missing out on £12.8bn worth of interest as a result of poor rates being offered on banks’ savings accounts and cash Isas.

Action point: Don’t settle for a non-competitive interest rate on your savings.  Make use of our online Savings Rate Booster to see how much more they could be earning.

How does your bank compare?

The table below shows the providers that we were able to rate in at least two of the four product areas. The overall score is created using relative customer scores for each product. The average customer score for each product is based on smaller brands who are not included in this table. A ‘n/a’ indicates that the banking brand is not active in this product area or the sample size was two small:

  • 15,693 members were asked about their current accounts in December 2011 and June 2012;
  • 15,417 members were asked about their credit cards in August 2011 and February 2012;
  • 14,301 members were asked about their savings accounts in December 2011 and June 2012;
  • 3,415 members were asked about their mortgages in January 2012 and July 2012.
 
Financial brands ranked by their customers
Rank Brand Customer Score
    Savings accounts Current accounts Credit cards Mortgages Overall score
1 First Direct 77% 93% 84% 90% 86%
2 The One Account n/a 83% n/a 83% 80%
3 Co-operative Bank 67% 86% 80% 83% 79%
4 Smile n/a 89% 76% n/a 78%
5 Coventry Building Society 64% n/a n/a 78% 74%
5 ING 55% n/a n/a 88% 74%
7 Saga 59% n/a 81% n/a 71%
8 Nationwide 61% 76% 70% 73% 69%
8 Yorkshire Building Society 61% n/a n/a 71% 69%
10 Marks & Spencer 54% n/a 78% n/a 67%
11 Intelligent Finance 57% 65% n/a 69% 65%
12 Britannia 53% n/a n/a 70% 64%
13 Tesco Bank 53% n/a 71% n/a 63%
14 Yorkshire Bank 56% 65% 62% n/a 61%
14 Sainsbury’s Finance 54% n/a 66% n/a 61%
16 HSBC 52% 59% 63% 67% 60%
16 AA 56% n/a 62% n/a 60%
16 Cheltenham & Gloucester 52% n/a n/a 62% 60%
16 Post Office 52% n/a 67% n/a 60%
16 Virgin Money 55% n/a 62% n/a 60%
21 Cahoot 50% 62% n/a n/a 59%
22 Clydesdale Bank 51% 58% 62% n/a 57%
23 NatWest 50% 56% 56% 63% 56%
24 Barclays 47% 56% 53% 59% 54%
25 Lloyds TSB 48% 58% 53% 48% 51%
25 Northern Rock 50% n/a n/a 45% 51%
27 Royal Bank of Scotland 44% 54% 56% 48% 50%
28 Bank of Scotland 46% 47% 53% n/a 49%
29 Halifax 45% 54% 54% 42% 48%
30 Santander 41% 45% 52% 47% 46%
  Average 54% 63% 67% 63% 62%
 

Which? campaigns for change in banking

The findings come ahead of the launch of a major new Which? campaign calling for fundamental changes in banking culture to put customers first.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: ‘Consumers are constantly being let down when it comes to customer service. This is not good enough, we want to see fundamental changes in the culture of banking and a return to banking for customers, not bankers.

‘Our survey shows that those banks that go the extra mile to keep their customers happy are rated far higher than banks who may offer slightly better products or interest rates. All banks need to start putting customers first.’

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