As current accounts fall under the spotlight of new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority, the uSwitch Current Account Awards show that banks will have to pull out all the stops to prevent customers voting with their feet.
The survey of over 10,000 current account customers reveals that the biggest banks on the high street are letting customers down with poor levels of service and below par online banking experiences.
While internet banks First Direct and Smile take the lion’s share of awards, Santander, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), and Barclays have failed to impress their customers. The research also suggests that young people aged between 18 and 24 display the lowest levels of satisfaction for customer service and trust.
Telephone and internet-based bank, First Direct, wins Best Current Account and comes top for Overall Satisfaction and Telephone Customer Service. Since its launch in 1989 by HSBC, the bank has been consistently praised for its excellent customer service.
First Direct is closely followed by Smile, winning categories including Most Trusted, Best Value for Money and Best Email Customer Service, with both banks having UK-based call centres operating
24 hours a day.
The Co-operative Bank was also given the thumbs up by customers, coming third in the awards overall. The Co-op also scooped the award for Best Branch Customer Service – potentially frustrating news to Lloyds TSB customers after the collapse of the bank branch sale last month.
Santander and RBS with work to do
Santander is voted the worst current account provider in the survey, let down by its customer service, be it online, over the phone, or in-branch.
Santander also came bottom for its online banking experience, though its flagship 123 current account helped it come third in the Benefits and Incentives category.
Of all the current account providers in the survey, RBS is the least likely to be recommended and also falls down on its scores for Trust and Overall Satisfaction. Barclays, like Santander, falls short on its customer service and online banking experience.
The research also shows that just 9% of 18 to 24-year-olds completely trust their current account provider, compared to 14% of 45 to 54-year-olds.
Young people are also the least impressed with the online and telephone customer services provided by their banks, which suggests that they may be the first to jump ship when the Payments Council launches its new seven day account switching service in September.
Banks need to earn customers’ respect
Michael Ossei, uSwitch personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Where you keep your hard-earned cash should be a place that you trust and are happy with, and many banks still have a long way to go to earn this respect.
“As people feel the squeeze of Government spending cuts and higher living costs, one thing they want to be sure of is that, if push comes to shove, they can lay their hands on their money quickly and easily.
Mr Ossei continues: “Low levels of consumer confidence and the new seven day switching process arriving in September mean that the current account market is all for the taking.
“The Post Office’s decision to launch a current account next Spring will give banks a real run for their money. Not only will it benefit from its far-reaching network of branches, but it’s also a trusted brand which the big banks should see as a serious threat.”