Banks: winning new customers isn’t just all about giving them money

New survey shows top four banks fail the test when it comes to customer satisfaction

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The Independent Online

Big banks are fighting a fresh war to attract customers. They’re handing over cash bribes — and not just a couple of quid: Halifax will hand you £125 while First Direct’s offer could net you £150. Or there’s TSB’s new deal of five per cent interest on credit balances plus cashback.

But anyone who switches because of the gimmicks could end up making a costly mistake. It makes much more financial sense to find an account that is good value for you, whether you run an overdraft regularly or actually have cash in your account on which you want to earn interest. The key is to understand how you use a bank account and find a deal that best reflects that usage.

But it’s also worth taking account of a new customer satisfaction research published today by comparison site uSwitch. Frankly, there’s little point joining a bank that messes up your banking (customers of RBS and NatWest probably know what I mean, having experienced a number of computer cock-ups in recent weeks).

In fact none of the big four banks – Lloyds, HSBC, RBS or Barclays – have made the top three for satisfaction. Number one is online bank First Direct, owned by HSBC. It won nine of 12 awards, including best current account, most trusted, and best customer service. Interestingly, new entrant Clydesdale Bank won the remaining three awards.

Also performing well was Yorkshire Bank and TSB, which both saw big improvements across the board in the poll, which asked 10,000 customers to judge banks on categories including satisfaction, trust and value for money.

The worst bank – for the second year in a row –  was judged to be RBS, which was voted worst provider overall and came bottom in a further five categories including trust, value for money and online service.

But it wasn’t the only one feeling customers’ dissatisfaction: Co-operative Bank got worse scores in eight categories while Lloyds and Barclays both fell in seven categories, Barclays actually slumping from fourth best to 10th in the rankings.

What can we learn from these results? First Direct has consistently topped such polls, which tells its own tale. For the rest? I reckon they all still need to improve.

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