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Biggest high street banks voted worst for customer satisfaction

Financial brands rated by their customers

White piggy bank being emptied of coins onto a grass mound

High street giants Barclays, Halifax/Bank of Scotland, NatWest/RBS and Santander have been placed bottom of the table in a Which? survey of customer satisfaction with banks. 

Which? asked more than 5,500 members of the public, in four independent surveys, how happy they are with their current account, savings, mortgage or credit card provider. From these responses we gave 19 of the UK’s biggest financial companies an overall score.

Barclays, Halifax/Bank of Scotland, NatWest/RBS and Santander all had an overall score below the average of 58%, and HSBC and Lloyds just managed to scrape the average. Bank of Scotland came bottom with an overall score of just 47%. 

At the other end of the table, First Direct came top with an overall score of 75%. One First Direct customer told us ‘There’s always somebody there, they are courteous, helpful and nothing is too much trouble’.

Each provider was given a customer score based on how satisfied customers said they were and how likely they were to recommend the provider to a friend. The overall score for each provider was calculated using relative customer scores for each product. See the table below for more detail.

You can also see our Which? recommended providers for current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and mortgages.

High satisfaction with building societies

High satisfaction with building societies was a theme throughout our surveys. 

All five building societies/mutuals we looked at – Co-operative Bank, Coventry Building Society, Nationwide, Smile and Yorkshire Building Society had an overall score above the average of 58%. 

Customers most satisfied with current accounts

Out of the four product areas we looked at, people were most satisfied with current account providers, which had an average customer score of 62%. 

Interestingly one in four of those surveyed told us they chose their current account because it was easily accessible via a branch. But if you’re willing to do without a branch, you may be more satisfied with the service you receive – the two current account providers with the highest customer scores, First Direct and Smile, are online and telephone banks.

Savings accounts were the product area where people were least satisfied; savings providers had an average customer score of 55%. This may in part reflect the fact that savings rates are very low at the moment. 

Mortgage providers had an average customer score of 59% and credit card providers 58%. 

‘Wake-up call’ for high street banks

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “These customer satisfaction scores should be a wake-up call for the high street giants who may soon find that, with quicker, easier switching, their customers are looking elsewhere. We hope the new current account switching service forces banks to fight for customers by offering better customer service and products.

“Ministers must also keep driving forward wider reforms to improve culture, standards and competition in retail banking so that banks work for customers, not bankers.”

Which? will be monitoring closely to see whether changes being introduced through the Banking Reform Bill in 2014 will give the financial services industry the shake-up it desperately needs.

Financial brands ranked
  Current accounts Customer score Current accounts Sample size Credit cards Customer score Credit cards Sample size Savings Accounts Customer score Savings Accounts Sample size Mortgages Customer score Mortgages Sample size Overall score
First Direct 85% 100 73% 101 68% 52 73% 40 85%
Smile 78% 99 67% 36 N/A N/A N/A N/A 70%
Yorkshire Building Society N/A N/A N/A N/A 67% 38 69% 51 70%
The Co-operative Bank 73% 102 66% 104 53% 43 78% 41 68%
Post Office N/A N/A 71% 40 61% 37 N/A N/A 68%
Coventry Building Society N/A N/A N/A N/A 67% 38 62% 41 67%
The One Account 75% 34 N/A N/A N/A N/A 65% 40 67%
Nationwide 67% 99 65% 100 56% 96 68% 100 64%
Virgin Money N/A N/A 59% 40 57% 39 N/A N/A 60%
Tesco Bank N/A N/A 64% 43 50% 40 N/A N/A 59%
HSBC 59% 99 58% 101 51% 97 63% 47 58%
Lloyds Bank 56% 100 57% 102 54% 95 64% 40 58%
Clydesdale Bank 64% 101 N/A N/A 48% 38 N/A N/A 56%
Natwest 61% 99 53% 102 54% 98 58% 54 56%
Barclays 54% 100 56% 100 52% 97 59% 98 55%
Halifax 61% 98 58% 101 48% 98 53% 100 55%
Royal Bank of Scotland 53% 100 54% 110 48% 40 53% 72 52%
Santander 51% 99 57% 103 51% 92 49% 101 52%
Bank of Scotland 50% 101 50% 102 40% 36 N/A N/A 47%
Average 62%   58%   55%   59%   58%
Table notes: Providers shown have a minimum sample size of 30 responses in at least two of the four product areas. Average customer score includes smaller providers not
included in table. n/a = not active in area, or sample size too small. 1,631 people asked about current account (May 2013); 1,922 people asked about credit card (Aug 2013). 1,082
people asked about savings account (May/Jun 2013). 1,186 people asked about their mortgage (Jul/Aug 2013). Results include some customers who now hold products with TSB.


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