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Consumer satisfaction with big banks continues decline

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

New research reveals the fall from grace of UK big banks – and the rise of new challengers – is continuing apace.

A week ahead of the two year anniversary of the seven-day switching service, a survey of over 10,300 current account customers found that consumer dissatisfaction with the UK banking ‘Big Four’ (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS) is steadily increasing.

For the second year in a row, RBS was ranked the worst provider overall, coming bottom in five categories – including trust, value for money and online service.

The Co-operative Bank saw the biggest falls compared to last year, sliding in eight out of the 12 categories, including overall satisfaction, trust and value for money.

Lloyds and Barclays both fell in seven categories, with the latter falling the furthest in overall satisfaction from fourth to tenth place. HSBC fell furthest in trust, from fifth to thirteenth.

Challenger upsets

Relative newcomer First Direct swept the board, winning nine of the 12 titles available – including Best Current Account, Most Trusted and Best Customer Service.

The online- and phone-only bank was only prevented from topping every category by Clydesdale Bank, which won Best App, Best Branch Customer Service and Best Switching Service.

Other new contenders saw improvements in their scores in a number of fields. TSB’s rankings for customer service, value for money and trust increased, and the bank rose from eighth to fourth place in the ‘Best Current Account’ category. Yorkshire Bank’s scores for overall satisfaction, trust, customer service and value for money, as well as online service, all improved.

Consumers gain

The research also suggests consumers have stood to gain over the last year, with improvements in value for money (up to 75 per cent from 69 per cent last year), trust and satisfaction with in-house switching teams.

Nicolas Frankcom, money expert at, said: “With savings rates still at rock bottom, current accounts are proving to be much more than an everyday bank account. People are always looking for ways to make their hard-earned cash work even harder, so it’s great overall satisfaction with value for money is up.

“Improvements across the board suggest the bar is being raised, with First Direct and Clydesdale ticking all the right boxes. It’s up to those losing customers to fight back. Big players in this space, such as Santander, are continuing to capitalise, while we’ve seen Barclays forced to rethink ending its rewards scheme. It’s also encouraging to see more people switching.

“While customers are looking for value for money, it’s important banks don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and take their eye off getting the basics right – customer service is key. Many providers still have a long way to go when it comes to delivering here. With more challenger banks expected to shake things up further in the future, the Big Four have more to do if they want to be the big winners.”