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The best and worst banks in South Africa for customer service

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

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • neil

    Where is investec? My wife has moved over to Investec….life could never be better, all the other banks can learn a lesson from them, no idiots at the other end of the phone, all educated people who speak english!!! You phone them they sort it,no issues! ABSA is just a pain in the ass compared to investec, ABSA Wake up and sort out your customer service!!!

    • Tom Ford

      not a bank

  • Madimetsha

    Capitec: No frills banking, just simple and straight forward……

    • victory

      And they charge r1.70 on each hundred rand u deposit unlike other banks charge R2.90

      • Frank Payne

        Yes and it’s or part thereof, so if one wasn’t careful R101 was deposited the charge sort of doubles so you end up going backwards – all for just pushing a button. So stupid.

  • IamRu

    FNB is definitely the worst when it comes to customer service. Just go check HelloPeter.

  • Cape Computer Club

    Never had a moment’s hassle with Capitec. Its also R800 a month cheaper to run a similar account than Nedbank. Plus, all the staff are wide-awake and do not seem to view their job as a burden

    • justfedup

      A simple action of a consultant standing up and offering you a chair before proceeding with business at hand has greatly helped Capitec to be where it is.Ignore the basics of customer care and engagement and I assure the figures can only get worse for them in the coming months and years.

      Message to the other banks;”Relieve your employees of the ‘burden’ they carry on their shoulders!”

  • Sarel Lotz

    As a FNB customer for many years I am not surprised about the banks customer care performance. Its never been great but lately its gone down the tubes.

  • hairyback

    I’m not surprised to hear about FNB. I’ve contacted them 6x trying to sign up for FNB connect, and they only got back to me once, with a reply that had nothing to do with the question. The rest of the time they ignored my emails. This is me trying to throw money at them. I would hate to see how they handle real problems. They are completely useless.

    • TheWallRSA

      Had the same problem with FNB Connect, with complaining and escalating took them 14 days to get back to me on moving my phone to them. I decided in rather not using FNBConnect.
      Ebucks support can also be slow.
      From the banking side i get very good support.

      • hairyback

        Ebucks is the only reason I haven’t walked away yet, because I need to get onto another level, but as soon as another bank offers a comparable reward scheme, I’m outta here. Looking forward to seeing what discovery brings to the table.

  • victory

    Capitec all the way,,,I wish Discovery bank can come join Capitec with good service

  • Frank Payne

    I really don’t know how Nedbank even made the cut. I have been a client for nearly fifty years and have witnessed a steady decline in service, technology interaction and costs, so much so that I started using Capitec as an alternative three years ago. I retained the Nedbank account as I needed overseas creditor payment facilities which were not provided by Capitec and the thought of all the hoops one needs to jump through that changing banks entailed, persuaded me to maintain that facility. Since the start of my experience with Capitec, I have been aware of the exact opposite in customer experience. Systems use is a breeze, downtime virtually non existent and the best part is that I am reminded each month of the fact that my interest income handsomely exceeds my transaction costs. Comparatively, maintaining my Nedbank Account with its limited use costs a few hundred rands a month, which is now going up again. Another fiction by the by, is the notion that banking activity is included as part of the GNP in government’s statistics, whereas in fact it is more like a very costly overhead expense that contributes very little to the real economy’s productive output, but through the creation of debt applied largely towards financing non productive activities, contributes massively to price inflation, which in turn leads to more debt creation. It’s a vicious circle of musical chairs and we are running out of chairs.

  • Sam

    100% agreed about FNB. Their service is totally useless. I have been a customer for 28 years and it has become a disgrace. Their private bankers (sic) are incapable of providing any service at all.

  • They all suck. Nobody has money in the bank, instead you have all extended a mostly unsecured loan, for a pathetic level of interest, to a bank that is holding it as their own, and using it to earn very high interest from other people. They actually charge the customer for this,

    We take it, for the convenience of being able to do a bank transfer, use an ATM, or card. If you have a homeloan or overdraft,
    You dont get the same friendly terms you give the bank with your money, forget that 🙁

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  • Blapartheid Zulu

    Would change to capitec if they had rewards program like ebucks

    • Madimetsha

      eBucks are simply your service fees recycled, because they are overcharging you in the first place, they hope not everyone will claim….. they do it to track your spending habits,

  • DeShawnTerrell

    Bad service of the major banks, especially Standard, is a direct consequence of AA and BEE.

    Capitec is just money handling shop. I don’t think they offer house loans and other services like business accounts and so on.

  • bengine

    The best and worst out of FIVE … BANKS – seriously!

  • Mayibongwenkhosi Ramachuda

    Its one thing to get bad service and its another to be a victim of institutionalised xenophobia. I came across a case where a holder of permanent residence applied for a bond at Nedbank. Their (spouse is co-applicant) application was processed by a Nedbank sales consultant and was further verified by their sales department. Meaning the application passed pre-qualification, as it met all the requirements, and was okayed by two sales people. And the couple have enough disposable income.

    These guys’ application was rejected because, the bank said, the “surety”, or co-applicant does not hold a valid permit. Despite efforts, by the applicants, to clarify that the co-applicant is the spouse of the main applicant and will automatically/technically get permanent residence as they will use the main applicant’s permanent residency status.

    Clearly Nedbank is xenophobic because the sales people okayed the application, with the co-applicant’s details having been verified, or is it a case of one part of Nedbank does not know what another part is doing. Because the sales people would not have accepted the co-applicant’s papers if they were not valid for the application.

  • Runnin Bare

    Agree, FNB going south at full throttle.

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