Lazy banks need to get on the front foot

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 15th February 2016

Do we need banks? What for? Paying for stuff? Well, if that’s the case, you may well soon just need your phone and a digital place into which you pay your salary. Not a bank as we know it.

But until the time comes when the general public can adopt such technologically advanced solutions, we’d still like to see traditional banks step up and deliver a better, fairer service.

Which?, the consumer campaign group, agrees, and this weekend launched a ‘We Deserve Better Banks’ campaign calling for coordinated action by the regulators, government and industry to:

  • Ensure banks listen to their customers about the quality of service and culture they expect;
  • Give customers better tools to put them in control of managing their money;
  • Tackle unfair unauthorised overdrafts.

Based on a survey of more than 20,000 people it finds the big banks lacking when it comes to customer satisfaction levels. Royal Bank of Scotland comes bottom of the table, with Barclays and NatWest also in the bottom 10. For overall satisfaction, the gap between the bottom and First Direct (74%) at the top is a shocking 21 percentage points. Less than half of the current account providers named scored more than three out of five stars for customer service.

Some banks have proven they can get it right for their customers, with First Direct receiving an overall score of 74% and Metro Bank customers saying they felt ‘valued’ and the ‘opening hours are very good’,  yet because of a lack of competition this is not driving up standards effectively enough across the whole industry.

Which? is concerned that the Competition and Markets Authority’s current proposals to reform the current account market are too focused on getting people to switch, rather than tackling the unfairness faced by unauthorised overdraft users and focusing on mechanisms that will ensure banks are held to account for how they treat their customers and putting customers in control of their accounts.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says “It’s high time the industry put its customers first and the competition inquiry needs to ensure that banks are held to account for the way they treat their customers. The big players in this market need to get on the front-foot and improve services for their customers, instead of waiting to be forced into action.”

To sign the Which? petition and support the We Deserve Better Banks campaign visit www.which.co.uk/betterbanks