High street banks fail to impress customers
Despite their general market dominance, the UK's leading high street banks score poorly in terms of customer satisfaction compared to other financial institutions.
Which?, the consumer watchdog, analysed and rated a total of 28 banks and building societies for customer satisfaction across current accounts, mortgages, savings accounts and credit cards.
Surprisingly, none of the leading high street banks made it into the top 15.
The research reveals that the four banks with the highest customer scores for current accounts control just 6% of the current account market, while the four with the lowest scores control 38%.
Figures revealed that Santander was rated in last place for customer satisfaction, with an overall customer score of just 41%. Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, RBS, Natwest and Northern Rock all rated very poorly in this area as well.
Bigger is not necessarily better
The top five banks for customer service were First Direct (84%), The Co-operative Bank (79%), The One Account (79%), Smile (77%) and Yorkshire BS (71%).
Conversely, the lowest rated banks were as follows: Santander (41%), Bank of Scotland (47%), Halifax (47%), Lloyds TSB (50%) and Barclays/Woolwich (52%).
"The high street is dominated by banks that have a shocking record for customer satisfaction - what more proof do we need that the market isn't working? We will only have a truly competitive market when banks are made to face up to a simple choice - either look after your customers or be prepared to lose them," observed Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive.
During the first six months of 2011, the Financial Ombudsman Service received a total of 149,925 new complaints against financial businesses - an increase of 54% compared to the second half of 2010.
The more knowledge you have about the different financial products available –such as bank accounts, loans, credit cards, PPI, or pre-paid cards - the more chance you will have of finding the right product for you.