nigel woollsey

Nigel Woollsey

Online Writer
Published: 24/06/2019

At a glance

• Most mainstream banks in the UK must contribute to the independent service quality survey, which is an unbiased customer-based questionnaire. Approximately 1,000 customers are surveyed each year for each provider and banks provide stats twice yearly in February and August.
• The idea behind this survey is to enable customers to compare the quality of service from personal current account providers, and so, drive improvement across the sector.
• The survey provides a snapshot of customer satisfaction across four main areas: Overall service quality, online and mobile banking services, overdraft services and service in branches.
• Participating banks and building societies in the UK must display these results prominently in their branches, online and on via mobile apps.

Why do banking service performance standards exist?

Personal banking is a typically long-term relationship, and in normal circumstances, people tend to choose a provider and stick with that firm until something significant forces them to change. In the past, customers might choose a bank when they started work and continue that relationship for the rest of their lives – often regardless of the quality of the service they received. It was assumed that all banks were essentially the same: solid, dependable and above all, safe institutions where the bank was in charge and customers did what they were told.

Thankfully, things today are rather different. Consumers are much more likely to walk away if they aren’t satisfied with the service they receive. Banks must work much harder to attract and retain customers, in full knowledge that legislation has made it much simpler to switch to another supplier should you feel you are getting a bad deal.

But how can you tell if the bank or building society you are swapping to is any better? While switching banks may have become simpler, there is still a significant reticence about changing your banking provider with most people (wrongly) still viewing it as a last resort. Rather than jumping out of the frying pan and into a possible fire, perhaps you might consult family or friends? Who do they bank with and are they generally satisfied with the service they receive? Unfortunately, personal recommendations are just that – personal to the one giving it. What may be good for them may not be good for you.

So how can you judge your bank’s performance against the rest of the market? Happily, many personal, as well as small to medium-sized business clients can now compare providers against a host of differing criteria – all of which represent real tasks, such as how long it takes them to replace a card if yours is stolen. How many days does it take them to set up a new account or arrange an overdraft? You can even see how banks compare on their overall service online, in branch and over the phone.

Welcome to the world of banking service performance levels.

What are banking service quality reports?

Introduced in 2018, many banks are now required to publish information on how likely people would be to recommend their bank – including its online, mobile, in branch and overdraft services. The resulting ‘league’ table is designed to allow customers to easily and quickly ascertain how their bank compares to others on quality of service. The central idea behind this is to drive customer choice and competition between banks to provide the best consumer service.

In addition to these general topics, banks must also declare figures on a series of general questions, such as the length of time to open a current account and or replace lost debit cards, for example. Banks are required to publish their stats on a quarterly basis by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

What are banks measured against?

Broadly there are four main categories that the top 16 personal current account providers are scored against. The information to collate these scores come from an independent survey of thousands of personal and small business customers.

  • Overall service quality
    Customers are asked how likely they would be to recommend their personal current account provider to family and friends.
  • Online and mobile banking services
    Customers are asked how likely they would be to recommend their provider’s online and mobile banking services to friends and family.
  • Overdraft services
    Customers answer how likely they would be to recommend their provider’s overdraft services to friends and family.
  • Services in branches
    How likely customers would be to recommend their provider’s branch services to friends and family.

In addition, there are 15 specific tasks that some banks declare their performance in. Only those that have over a certain number of current account customers must comply, however, some who don’t have that many still choose to publish anyway:

  • What percentage of new accounts are opened the same day?
  • How many days on average does it take to open an account?
  • How long in days does it take for 99% of customers to have an account opened?
  • What percentage of customers get their debit card on the same day of account opening?
  • How many days on average does it take to get a debit card for a new account?
  • How many days does it take for 99% of customers to get a debit card for a new account?
  • What percentage of people get internet banking access on the same day as opening a new account?
  • How many days on average does it take for new customers to get internet banking?
  • How many days does it take for 99% of customers to get access to internet banking?
  • How many customers can obtain an overdraft the same day as requesting it?
  • How many days does it take on average to obtain an overdraft after requesting it?
  • How many days does it take for 99% of customers to obtain an overdraft?
  • What percentage of people can get a replacement card the same day?
  • How long on average does it take to replace a lost card?
  • How many days does it take to replace a lost card in for 99% of customers?

Where can I find all this information?

Banks are required to display the service quality results prominently in all branches, as well as on their website and banking apps. However, these can also be accessed on the dedicated websites for personal and small business .

Having this and the more detailed information is important when comparing current accounts with a view to switching. We display the latest performance figures for the following categories on the product detail for all current account products on our comparison charts:

  • Open a current account
  • Get a debit card
  • Get internet banking
  • Get an overdraft
  • Replace a lost debit card

Data is displayed to show what percentage of customers can expect these tasks to be completed on the same day, how long it takes on average and how long it takes to complete these tasks for 99% of customers.

Click here to see our complete bank account comparison charts.

 

Pros and cons of service quality information:

  • Gives customers good information on the quality of service from banks and building societies – enabling them to make a more informed choice when opening new accounts or switching banks.
  • Is independent of the banks and provides honest, unbiased information for customers.
  • Encourages banks that are underperforming to improve and for banks with good scores to maintain or improve further.
  • Has no power to force banks to change or enforce better customer service, relying instead on customers voting with their feet.
  • Not very well known that this scheme exists.

Moneyfacts tip:

Moneyfacts tip nigel woollsey

When considering which bank is the best fit, it pays to think about what is important to you when it comes to the service core elements. For example, if getting a replacement debit card quickly is high on your list of priorities, then choose a provider who has shown themselves to perform well in this regard.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

confused woman looking at document

At a glance

• Most mainstream banks in the UK must contribute to the independent service quality survey, which is an unbiased customer-based questionnaire. Approximately 1,000 customers are surveyed each year for each provider and banks provide stats twice yearly in February and August.
• The idea behind this survey is to enable customers to compare the quality of service from personal current account providers, and so, drive improvement across the sector.
• The survey provides a snapshot of customer satisfaction across four main areas: Overall service quality, online and mobile banking services, overdraft services and service in branches.
• Participating banks and building societies in the UK must display these results prominently in their branches, online and on via mobile apps.

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