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first direct leads the banking sector in national customer satisfaction index

04 Feb 2010

UK consumers are more satisfied with customer service from the banking sector today than before the financial crisis began, according to the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

The banking sector has achieved a score of more than 75 out of 100* in the Institute’s UK Customer Service Index (UKCSI) - slightly above an overall average across 13.
Recession appears to have had a galvanising effect on service within the banking industry, which has gained almost 3 points in the Index since January 2008. However, the sector still lags some way behind retail, which leads the Index with a score of 79.
Despite overall satisfaction with service at branch level, consumer ratings of banks’ reputation – a key element measured by the UKSCI – have plummeted among banks taken into public ownership.
Institute Chief Executive Jo Causon comments: "Despite the financial crisis, banks deserve credit for not being distracted from the strategic importance of retaining customers by delivering excellent service at the frontline.
“But there is clearly work to be done to regain the goodwill lost during the crisis.”
The UKCSI is the national measure of customer satisfaction, gauging customer service in the UK by surveying around 26,000 consumers. The overall score across13 sectors comes in at just over 75 out of 100.
Best performers
Interestingly, the two standout performances in the sector are from banks with alternative offerings: online bank first direct and the ethically positioned Cooperative Bank.
first direct has flourished, posting improvements in every single element of service measured by the Index. It is the highest ranked bank, with a score of 84, and the eighth best individual performer across all 13 sectors. The Cooperative Bank is ranked just behind on 83.
Reputations take a hammering
Despite the improvement in banks’ overall customer service, the reputations of those taken into public ownership have taken a predictable dive.
Royal Bank of Scotland’s reputation has been hardest hit, plummeting almost 20% from 8 (out of 10) to 6 since July 2008. Bank of Scotland’s reputation has fallen by more than 10% in the same period (7 to 6), with Halifax and Lloyds TSB also dropping slightly.
Yet other players have done have done remarkably well to emerge from the recession with their reputations in tact: first direct and Alliance & Leicester have actually enhanced their reputation through the crisis.

UKCSI Banking League Table
Rank Company Score/100
first direct 84
2 Cooperative Bank 83
3 Natwest 77
4 Alliance & Leicester 76
5= RBS 76
5= Nationwide 76
7 Lloyds TSB 75
8 Barclays 74
9 HSBC 74
10 Halifax 72
11 Bank of Scotland 71
12 Abbey 71

UKCSI: Company League Table
Rank Organisation
1 John Lewis 88
2 Waitrose 87
3= Marks & Spencer (food) 86
3= Toby Carvery 86
5 Marks & Spencer (non-food) 85
6 Virgin Holidays 84
7 RAC 83
first direct 83
9= Marriott 83
9= Virgin Atlantic 83
Notes to Editors
About the UKCSI
The Institute launched the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) in 2007 and it is repeated every six months. This latest UKCSI is based on a sample of 26,000 adults surveyed annually.
Organisations are measured on 20 individual factors of customer satisfaction in five key attributes: professionalism, problem solving, timeliness, quality and efficiency and ease of doing business.
Each of these factors is weighted according to how important customers said they were in the Institute’s research Customer priorities: What Customers Really Want, and the weighted satisfaction scores are used to produce the Index.
This makes the scores exceptionally robust as they are not simply a percentage of respondents who answered a question in the positive or negative – they are derived from a weighted index of multiple questions.
The UKCSI results are determined on a geographically and demographically representative sample of UK adults and data is collected for all organisations with a high market share in each segment of the private sector and the main players in the public sector.
The UKCSI has been welcomed by BSI British Standards. It says: “We believe it is an important step in improving customer satisfaction in the UK as well as a useful tool for consumers and business. Customer satisfaction is a key area of standardisation for BSI and our own work in this area potentially assists organisations to improve their position in the index.”
About the Institute of Customer Service
The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service whose primary purpose is to lead and raise customer service performance and professionalism.
It is the authoritative voice of customer service and a catalyst for all those whose focus is on the delivery of world-class service experiences.
The Institute is a membership body with a community of more than 350 organisational members - from the private, public and third sectors - and around 7,000 individual members.
For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to:

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