The best and worst banks in South Africa for customer satisfaction

The latest South African Consumer Satisfaction Index for the country’s retail banks has been published, showing which banks have the happiest customers.

The index, run by consultation group Consulta, polled almost 15,000 customers from lower, middle and upper retail banking segments on their overall level of satisfaction with South Africa’s big six retail banks – Absa, African Bank, Capitec, FNB, Nedbank, and Standard Bank.

The results of the survey showed that South Africa has a new leader in customer satisfaction in the banking industry, with African Bank toppling Capitec, which has been at the top of the ranking for a few years.

African Bank performed the best with a high score of 85.7. This is a seven-point improvement from the 2018 SAcsi.

Capitec (84.0) followed by Nedbank (80.2) and FNB (79.9) – all in leader positions and above the industry average (78.2).

“While Capitec maintains a leader position off a very high base, it is showing signs of decline, which points to the challenges of maintaining customer satisfaction levels when expectations are on the rise,” Consulta said.

“While Capitec still has real substance to its value proposition, it needs to note the marginal decline in year-on-year scores.”

Nedbank has made consistent improvements over the last five years achieving a score marginally better than FNB in 2019. Nedbank comes in at 80.2 followed closely by FNB with 79.9 – both also in leader positions.

Absa (76.8), although showing slight improvement on its 2018 score, comes in below par, followed by Standard Bank (75.3), who declined on its 2018 score.

“Absa remains stable, with a point five index point improvement from the 2018 score, but remains four points higher than the low-point of 73 in 2017,” the group noted.

# Bank 2018 score 2019 score Change
1 African Bank 78.1 85.7 +7.6
2 Capitec 84.9 84.0 -0.9
3 Nedbank 79.3 80.2 +0.9
4 FNB 81.5 79.9 -0.6
Industry Average 78.8 78.2 -0.6
5 Absa 76.3 76.8 +0.5
6 Standard Bank 77.0 75.3 -1.7

Nedbank has shown strong consistent improvement. Focusing on its positioning, pricing, messaging and customer facing channels is starting to pay dividends, particularly in the middle and upper market segments.

After years of decline, Absa shows consistent improvement but will need to work hard to ensure that actual deliverables meet customer expectations in order to maintain their upward trend.

Standard Bank continues to struggle with its value proposition to clients and has remained below par on overall customer satisfaction since the inception of the index eight years ago. Its score declined by almost two index points in 2019 after showing some improvement in 2018.

Banks under pressure

“For the first time since the inception of the SA-csi for Banking, Nedbank has caught up to FNB, with the former managing to outscore FNB in perceived value specifically,” the group said.

African Bank, Capitec, FNB and Nedbank, meanwhile, all hold leader positions, it said.

“Each of these banks hold a particular, unique and strong position in the minds of customers. African Bank achieved a seven-point improvement from its 2018 score. This puts African Bank into a leadership position with the aforementioned banks, albeit with a smaller, but growing client base.”

Absa remained stable – a notable achievement as the bank was in the process of cutting its final ties to Barclays – while Standard Bank had a particularly tough time, struggling to keep up with the competition on customer satisfaction.

“Hopefully Standard Bank will start to experience an upward trend in their customer satisfaction metrics once significant chances in the organisation has been implemented,” Consulta said.

The group said that it is pertinent to point out that while South Africa’s banking sector is world-class in customer satisfaction, expectations remain extremely high and are likely to keep rising.

“Going forward, banks will need to better understand the nature of these expectations which includes striking a balance between digital convenience, value delivery and human intuition and engagement,” it said.

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The best and worst banks in South Africa for customer satisfaction