Global survey reveals unhappiness with retail banks

Banks have made little progress in improving customer service over the past year, with around a half of their retail customers considering switching to a rival, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

The 2013 World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini , which polls over 18,000 retail banking customers in 35 countries, found that 41 percent of customers were unsure if they would stay with their bank in the next six months, while an additional 10 percent indicated that they would leave.

The results were similar to a 2012 survey, in which just under half of customers said they might leave their banks.

Trust in banks around the world has been eroded by scandals including the rigging of benchmark interest rates, lapses in anti-money laundering controls, breaches of U.S. sanctions against Iran and various mis-selling controversies.

However, customers have traditionally been reluctant to move banks because of the perceived complications involved. Britain is looking to tackle that and stimulate competition by introducing rules which enable customers to switch accounts within seven days.

The Capgemini report, one of the largest of its kind, found customer satisfaction was greatest in North America, with Canada taking the top spot with a 61 percent rating and the United States following with 57 percent.

Banks in the Asia Pacific occupied the other end of the spectrum, with Hong Kong having the lowest rating at 15 percent and Japan also scoring badly with a 22 percent customer satisfaction rate. The report said more demanding customers may make it harder for banks to score highly in the region.

China showed one of the biggest improvements in the survey, however, with a customer satisfaction rate of 36 percent. The report attributed this to efforts by the Chinese banking regulator to prevent banks from charging excessive fees, highlighting the role regulators can play in determining the experience of customers in a particular market.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Mark Potter)