Take a bow Starling Bank, Monzo, First Direct, Metro Bank and Nationwide. Yet again, the same five lenders rank as the UK’s best retail banks for customer service as ranked by customers.
Every six months, Ipsos releases its UK personal banking service quality survey and the latest survey was unveiled on 15 August.
There are many financial services consumer surveys. But make no mistake – this survey matters. Specifically, the Ipsos one has the kudos of forming part of a regulatory requirement from the Competition and Markets Authority. The premise is simple: it asks retail banking customers whether they would recommend their bank to friends and family. Consumers’ answers reveal how banks have performed over the past six months.
So this is a survey that merits attention on one hand. On the other hand, the findings have a certain predictability. As forecast last week, it was a fairly safe bet that Starling, Monzo, First Direct, Metro Bank and Nationwide would form the top five.
As it happens, I even got the ranking in correct order of the first five. And no, I had no inside information from Ipsos.
It is not in fact, any great surprise that yet again, the same banks are top ranked by their customers. In terms of optimising customer service, these banks have form.
Some banks just get the concept of excellent customer service. First Direct, for example, has been in the top three or four of almost every service survey the writer has witnessed in the past 20 years, irrespective of the survey source. Metro Bank will always score highly for its in-store service.
Indeed, consider the same Ipsos survey back in August 2020. In that case, Monzo and Starling ranked as the top two, ahead of First Direct, Metro Bank and Nationwide.
The worst UK bank brands for service: RBS, Virgin Money and TSB
At the other end of the table, I forecast that Virgin Money and TSB would be the worst ranked.
Nearly correct but not quite. The worst ranking lender for the past six months is Royal Bank of Scotland with Virgin Money and TSB ranked the next worst. There is however a separate ranking for mobile and online banking. And in this survey, it comes as absolutely no surprise that Virgin Money ranks at the bottom, 16th of 16 brands.
The best and worst UK banking apps
The Virgin Money app is a shocker and it is no surprise it ranks at the bottom of the survey. I speak with personal experience of the past seven months. That is, until last week, when with some relief I closed my Virgin Money credit card account, cut the card in two and uninstalled the app. As mentioned in a recent editorial, swapping an Amex card for Virgin Money has to rank as among the more stupid decisions I have made, notwithstanding the cost saving on offer of 5% cashback on rail fares with LNER. That cost saving is simply not worth the challenge of using the Virgin Money app.
Virgin Money service levels slump since rebrand
As regards Virgin Money, glance again at the August 2020 survey. On that occasion, Virgin Money ranked a relatively respectable 9th equal. And then came the Clydesdale Bank/Yorkshire Bank/Virgin Money rebrand. Customer service has taken quite a hit following the rebrand. As for a successful connection on the Virgin Money call centre, the only advice one can give is to write off a good 30 minutes, on a good day.
At the top of the ranking for online and mobile, Starling and Monzo rank first and second. Of the incumbent banks, a deserved shout out for the online and mobile banking channels from Lloyds Banking Group. LBG’s three banking brands, Halifax, Lloyds and Bank of Scotland perform strongly and all rank in the top half dozen.