/ SAcsi

Capitec proves it is a serious contender by yet again outperforming competitors in customer satisfaction

Overall satisfaction with South African banks has remained unchanged

According to new findings from the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi), overall satisfaction with South African banks has remained unchanged at 76.3 out of 100. Capitec, however, has outdistanced its competitors in a number of areas which contribute to overall customer satisfaction, including quality, perceived value, customer loyalty and low levels of complaints with high rates of complaint resolution.

Over 16,500 clients of Capitec, FNB, Nedbank, Absa and Standard Bank were surveyed across the mass and middle income segments, as well as upper income level clients (i.e. the Platinum-level clients) by SAcsi. However, Private Banking / Wealth clients as well as business banking clients were excluded from this measure. Both Capitec and FNB retained their leadership position for the second year in a row with overall satisfaction scores of 83.8 and 79.8 out of 100 respectively (previously 82.2 and 79.3). Nedbank scored on par with the industry average at 75.6 out of 100 (previously 74.8), while both Absa and Standard Bank’s scores were below par at 74.3 and 73.0 out of 100 respectively (previously 74.8 and 73.7).

Adrè Schreuder, CEO of Consulta and founder of SAcsi, says that a three year trend indicates that Capitec has shown the greatest improvement in overall customer satisfaction, whereas Absa was unable to sustain the significant improvement it recorded last year. Standard Bank have shown marginal decline for the last two years. FNB has maintained its satisfaction levels and Nedbank has recorded consistent improvement over a three-year period.

Most banks managed to meet their customers’ expectations of quality with a relatively high average score this year, an achievement made more noteworthy when one considers that customers are reporting higher expectations each year.

Schreuder goes on to comment that the delivery of high quality products and/or services is not necessarily an area where banks can differentiate themselves from their competitors in the long term. “On countless occasions we’ve seen one bank introduce an innovative offering into the market only to have other banks offer something similar within a very short space of time,” he explains.

One area identified as a potential differentiator is perceived value, which measures quality received in relation to the price paid. “In this instance we see far bigger gaps between the banks, with Capitec and FNB both industry leaders on this metric, though Capitec’s score surpasses the average by a significant margin of 15.2 points at 89.4 out of 100. With the exception of FNB, all other banks are performing below par.”

The SAcsi also noted interesting observations in the outcomes of customer satisfaction, namely customer loyalty, complaints, as well as customers’ propensity to recommend their bank to others.Customer loyalty is measured by the intention to repurchase and price tolerance. Although overall loyalty has declined slightly, Capitec and FNB customers are notably more price tolerant than the industry average. “When viewed as a three year trend, customer loyalty is in decline, indicating the fierce competitiveness of the sector,” explains Prof. Schreuder, adding that banks are increasingly focused on customer-centricity which will assist in building and improving customer satisfaction by ensuring that they offer channels and products that hit the ‘sweet spot’ with consumers.

The level of customer complaints has declined significantly over the past three years, indicating that it is clearly an area of focus for all the banks. Here again, FNB and Capitec have the least complaints and resolve their complaints better than the other banks, though both Absa and Standard Bank have managed to reduce the complaints levels over the past three years. “High level complaints relate to transactional channels and administrative errors,” says Prof. Schreuder.

Customers’ likelihood to recommend their bank remains largely unchanged since the previous measure, though Capitec customers demonstrate an appetite for additional products and services, which bodes well for the introduction of new products and services. The highest score of 57% was recorded by Capitec, up 2% from the 2014 score. Absa showed the lowest NPS score at 15%, which is the same as its previous score. Nedbank showed the greatest improvement in its NPS score, achieving 25% from its previous scores of 19%.

Banking channels

The SAcsi also measured satisfaction with specific retail banking channels.

ATMs are one of the most used channels, but no one particular bank differentiates itself from the rest in this particular area. When it comes to branches, Capitec is again seen as the leader in customer satisfaction, though both Absa and FNB improved their scores this year.

When examining the various digital banking platforms, Nedbank and Standard Bank both showed improvement in the scores for their banking apps this year, with FNB named as the leader in this segment. Customers are happier with cell phone banking this year, with all banks showing higher scores. FNB continues to lead the internet banking segment, though Capitec and Nedbank are closing the gap with scores on par with the average. Absa and Standard Bank’s scores were below par. Telephonic banking remained static.

While the average score for call centres didn’t change much, satisfaction with Standard Bank’s call centres took a significant fall.

Prof. Schreuder advises that by better understanding clients and channel usage patterns, banks can help to build and improve customer relationships. “Smaller, more nimble companies that can provide a more personalised service tend to perform better than large businesses. Banks can distinguish themselves by competing on customer satisfaction,” he says.