The best and worst banks in South Africa for customer service

New data from marketing and research firm, BrandsEye, reveals which South African banks have drawn the most positive and negative sentiment among customers over the past year – and which bank offered the best service.

The group tracked social media activity relating to South Africa’s big five banks, and analysed customer comments for both positive and negative sentiment – largely focusing on service.

According to BrandsEye, the assessment is done using both algorithms (identifying positive and negative phrases) and human assessment (to identify the context of the social media posts), to go beyond simple love and hate, and view the core sentiment towards banking companies.

“As in all highly competitive markets, South Africa’s retail banking customers expected their bank to meet their expectations consistently. When banks failed to deliver, customers called them out,” the group said.

Between June 2015 and August 2016, FNB emerged as the most complained about bank in the country, with over 40% of sentiment expressed over social media being of a negative nature.

This was followed by Standard Bank (39%), Absa (34%), Capitec (29%), and Nebank drawing the least negative sentiment (20%), BrandsEye found.

The graph below shows how sentiment has changed over time:


Looking at more positive feedback, the group found that Capitec (just under 40%) carried the most positive sentiment, followed by Nedbank (also just under 40%), Standard Bank (33%), FNB (25%), and Absa (24%) coming in last.

“Although positive sentiment surrounding other banks spiked in response to specific campaigns…Capitec retained a clear, consistent lead,” BrandsEye said.

“While not immune to criticism, Capitec was also the bank that fared best in terms of customer service. Standard Bank and FNB, on the other hand, seem to have struggled in this area, experiencing by far the most negative sentiment – criticism they were not able to counterbalance with great customer service experiences.”


BrandsEye said that, while it is possible to dismiss sentiment-based data, figures released by the South African banks show that this kind of analysis is often predictive – citing customer data covered by BusinessTech previously.

Read: Capitec is now the third biggest bank in South Africa

“Between 2014 and 2015, Capitec, the bank that pleased its customers most over the study period, was also the bank that grew its customer base the fastest – by nearly 18% over a year, a rate that translates into the acquisition of a staggering 100,000 customers per month,” the group said.

“Other banks, which were unable to match Capitec’s positive regard as consistently, failed to achieve even 5% growth over the same period.”

More interesting still, BransEye said that although FNB scooped the an award for strongest brand in South Africa for the fourth year running in 2015 – it was found to be the second worst performer in terms of social media sentiment around customer service.

It was also the only bank of the five that actually saw its customer base shrink.


Read: These are the best and worst bank accounts in South Africa

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The best and worst banks in South Africa for customer service