Improvements in banks’ complaints handling

Robyn Hall

August 15, 2011

Four in 10 customers (40%) believe their complaints are not handled fairly by banks, a slight improvement on the corresponding figure six months ago (42%). The survey also reveals that 45% of customers believed their complaint was handled promptly, up from 42% six months ago. Yorkshire Bank were rated the best for friendly and helpful in branch staff.

ConsumerIntelligence.com launched its Banking Experiences & Preferences study earlier this year to measure how well all of the UK’s leading banks measured up to key promises outlined in RBS/NatWest’s Customer Charter.

The latest report – using data gathered in July 2011 – reveals good news for High Street banks. The study found that 94% of customers are served within 10 minutes when they have to go into branches, up from 88% six months ago. Just 2% of customers have to wait more than 15 minutes to carry out transactions.

However, all is not well as one in six customers (17%) had reason to complain to their bank in the past year. Nearly half of those who complained (48%) said their complaint was resolved within a week with First Direct coming out best with a 76% rating. On the flip side, 28% said their complaint took more than a month to get their problem sorted.

The study shows 15% of customers have sent suggestions to their bank on how to improve service but only half (46%) say their bank acknowledged their suggestion.

However, of those who made a suggestion for improvement to their bank, one in three (36%) said their bank actually implemented their suggestion. Yorkshire Bank has reason to be pleased as its customers said their suggestions were not only acknowledged but also implemented.

Half of customers say they can contact their bank 24 hours a day 7 days a week, though another 41% were unsure if they could or not. First Direct were way out in front in this regard with 96% of customers knowing they can contact their bank at any time they wanted.

Ian Hughes, managing director of ConsumerIntelligence.com said: “We want all banking customers to know how their banks measure up to the same set of standards, and we use the principles outlined in the RBS/NatWest Customer Charter as standards to benchmark against.

“We believe it’s important for banks to set targets in order to improve the customer experience and raise standards for them in-branch, by telephone and online.

“It’s encouraging to see that service issues are being addressed by banks and that customers are seeing slight improvements in how their complaints have been handled and a reduction in queues in branches. But banks mustn’t get complacent as there is still much improvement to be made.”

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