Santander customer rating: from hero to zero

Stephan Shakespeare
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AS Stephen Hester contemplates accepting his bonus we’ve looked at how successfully he has improved consumer perceptions of his bank in 2010.

Last January RBS was poorly perceived and was clearly the last of the big five banks on every BrandIndex indicator. Take the key measure of recommendation; at -14.9 RBS was 13.3 points worse than the industry average. Its general impression score (-33.7) was 27.1 points below average. The year has seen RBS move closer to the industry norm on all elements but still remain in negative territory – recommendation -8.2 from -13.3, impression -16.5 from -27.1. Its improvement has been partially down to a slow rise in its ratings and partially due to a collapse in views of Santander. The Spanish giant was competing with HSBC as the best perceived bank last January but opinion nose-dived throughout 2010 – impression down from +0.9 to -13.1, recommendation from +2.9 to -12.9 leaving it in 4th or 5th place across all measures. As the charts show it is on recommendation that Santander has taken the biggest hit compared to its competitors, suggesting that it is the experience of customers leading the general image decline rather than bad press. TellYouGov confirms what is going wrong, with respondents spontaneously emailing, tweeting or using the TellYouGov website or app to express an opinion on Santander. Comments such as “Poor service – again!” proliferate with their volume making it the only bank that consistently appears on our volume leaderboard.

So for RBS, the roots of recovery are in place but there is some way to go. For Santander, public opinion is low and falling. Customer service needs improving to reverse this decline.

Stephan Shakespeare is chief executive of YouGov