Opinion Former Article

BSA: Levels of customer service are better at mutuals

Levels of customer service are better at mutuals

Building societies and other mutually owned lenders and deposit takers have been ranked higher than plc banks on 11 important aspects of customer service by consumers. An independent survey by GfK NOP¹ of more than 2,000 individuals across the UK reveals that customer-owned mutuals beat the banks on factors such as trust, value for money and handling complaints and that they are also more likely to be recommended by friends and family.

In all, the results showed that mutuals outscore plc banks on these measures:

Service factor +ve differential²
Your provider looks after the communities it operates in 21
Your provider offers reasonable value for money 19
You trust your provider to act in your best interests 16
Your provider values you as a customer 15
Your provider deals with complaints quickly & effectively 10
You would recommend your provider to friends & family 8
Your money is safe with your provider 7
Your provider treats its customers fairly 7
Your provider would support you through financial difficulties 6
Your provider has a range of products that suits your needs 4
Your provider is open and honest 3

In addition, using data from the GfK NOP Financial Research Survey³ it is clear that customers were also more satisfied with the current accounts, mortgages and savings products they bought from mutual providers than from others. This positive difference has been consistent since the BSA first researched these factors in January 2004. In total, 77% of current account customers were extremely or very satisfied with their provider, compared to 64% of customers with the banks. Similar figures for mortgages show 69% at mutuals versus 57% at banks and for savings accounts, 56% of customers with a product at a mutual were extremely or very satisfied compared to 46% of bank customers.


Commenting, Adrian Coles, Director-General of the BSA said: "It is clear that the different business approach that the mutuals have, because they are customer not shareholder owned, translates into something tangible and positive for consumers. Whilst our members constantly work to do more and better for their customers, consumers plainly already value the difference. Many are showing this by investing and borrowing through building societies and other mutuals and we have seen a significant up-tick since the recent rash of plc bank-related issues. There is no doubt that the usual factors of product, price and access will remain towards the top of consumers' shopping list - as they should be. However, we are now starting to see the rise of trust and reputation as additional decision-making factors."

- Ends -

Hilary McVitty - hilary.mcvitty@bsa.org.uk / 020 7520 5926

Notes to Editors

¹ GfK NOP research on behalf of the BSA. Between 26 April and 1 May 2012, 2,005 adults across the UK were interviewed face to face. Respondents were asked to select which brands they had savings accounts, current accounts and mortgages with, and GfK NOP then allocated their responses correctly to mutual or bank categories.

² The proportion of customers agreeing with each statement, less the proportion disagreeing gives the net agreement figure. The score presented here is the number of percentage points by which mutuals receive higher net agreement scores than the banks.

³ GfK NOP Financial Research Survey for the six-months ending January 2012. GfK NOP surveys approximately 5,000 adults, face-to-face, across the UK every month, so these results are based on responses from approximately 30,000 adults across the UK.

. The full report is attached to this email and can also be found on the BSA website here - http://www.bsa.org.uk/publications/industrypublications/customer_service12.htm

. The Building Societies Association (BSA) represents mutual lenders and deposit takers in the UK including l 47 UK building societies. Mutual lenders and deposit takers have more than 32 million customers, total assets of over £375 billion and, together with their subsidiaries, hold residential mortgages of nearly £240 billion, 19% of the total outstanding in the UK. They hold more than £250 billion of retail deposits, accounting for 22% of all such deposits in the UK. Mutual deposit takers account for 34% of cash ISA balances. They employ approximately 50,000 full and part-time staff and operate through approximately 2,000 branches.

. Photographs of Adrian Coles are available from the BSA press office, or from the Association's website at www.bsa.org.uk or Headlinemoney www.headlinemoney.co.uk

. Follow the BSA on Twitter @BSABuildingSocs

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