SME satisfaction with banks continues to decline, but Bank of Queensland bucks trend

Businesses continue to be unsatisfied with the services offered by their banks, according to a survey of 1000 small and large businesses conducted by independent banking research firm East & Partners.

The bi-monthly Business Banking Index, conducted in May, found businesses turning over between $1-5 million a year rated their banks at 11.4. The survey asks respondents to rate banks across a range of factors from 10 to 100, so a score of 11.4 is almost as low as can be achieved given the survey’s methods.

In 2008, small businesses gave their banks a collective score of 21.0, but the figure has declined steadily since then.

Small businesses are exasperated with their banks, says East & Partners head of markets analysis Lachlan Colquhoun.

“When it comes to the small end of town, I don’t think the banks have really changed in their approach since the global financial crisis,” he told SmartCompany.  “And I think that’s largely behind the continuing downward trajectory.”

However, Bank of Queensland continued to receive positive mentions in the research, he adds.

Asked to rate the banks on empathy, loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction, businesses banking with the Bank of Queensland gave it a score of 63.9, the highest score given to a bank.

Bank of Queensland has topped the index for five years, starting from 2008 when it supplanted former perennial winner St George.

Since then, St George has faced an ongoing decline in its ratings, which Colquhoun says may come from its customers perceiving it as no different to its owner, Westpac.

The biggest falls in the index went to the Big 4 banks, with the Commonwealth Bank having a satisfaction score of just 16.6% among all businesses.

East & Partner’s findings contradict those of another survey, released yesterday by bank lobby the Australian Bankers Association, which found total customer satisfaction with Australian banks was at record highs.

The survey, which did not focus on business customers, found that satisfaction with the banks was at 81.1% – the highest level since the ABA began surveying customers 17 years ago.

Steven Münchenberg, ABA chief executive, said the survey had showed banking satisfaction had remained above 80% for the past nine months, and banking satisfaction had improved for the past 12 years.

“Banks have invested a lot in improving the customer experience of banking over the past decade, and the results of this are clear in the steady increase in customer satisfaction levels,” he said.


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