Banking & Finance Awards: Awarding the best – 80,000 customers can’t be wrong

June marks the month in which RFI Global announces the winners of its Annual Australian Banking & Finance Awards. Now in its 6th year, these awards are based on Australia’s largest financial services customer study, RFI’s Atlas, which also forms the backbone of our sentiment indices, and much more. The study captures the behaviours and attitudes of more than 80,000 Australian consumers and businesses over a 12-month period and is the benchmark for the KPIs used by many of Australia’s largest and most successful financial services brands.

 

The winners!

 

In an environment where switching intent is rising and customers are worried and feeling undervalued, then customer perception of banks is more important than ever.

 

Unlike many other awards, which are based on pricing or judged by a panel that may or may not have real experience of being a customer of each brand, these awards take into account direct customer feedback across metrics such as advocacy, innovation and trustworthiness, which feed into a total of 44 award categories.

 

Have a look at our outstanding winners.

Is the future ‘Yello’?

Looking through the winners of the categories, there is no doubt that CBA has done exceptionally well, winning 16 of the 44 on offer, plus an additional two for its subsidiary Bankwest. 

 

In every month of the last year, CBA’s digital banking NPS (advocacy) metrics have been number one of the major banks. This includes both mobile and online banking across both the consumer bank and business bank. Taking mobile banking NPS as an example, while its nearest peers are grouped in an NPS range of between +13.7 and +19.3, CBA stand out at +28.9. 

 

Furthermore, the bank has invested heavily in its Yello loyalty program, which provides customers with rewards and personalised offers based on their banking behaviour and product holdings. In other words, it does exactly what customers want when they say, “reward me for my loyalty”. 

Challenging the status quo

Outside of the major banks, the challenger brands that can lay claim to ‘most awarded’ are ING, Bendigo Bank and Macquarie.

 

The interesting thing is that they each win awards for finding their niche and focusing on different areas of the banking spectrum.

 

  • Bendigo Bank wins its plaudits on the business banking side of the awards, taking out Most Recommended Business Bank and Best Business Customer Service. While it’s digital subsidiary bank Up, takes out the consumer deposit awards for Most Recommended Everyday Account and Most Recommended Online Savings Account.
  • ING’s awards come in the consumer banking space, with Most Innovative Bank and Best Digital Consumer Bank.
  • Macquarie on the other hand, wins in the product space, taking out awards for Most Recommended Home Loan, Most Recommended Owner Occupier Loan and Most Recommended Investor Loan. Just desserts after a couple of years of significant focus and growth on both its home loan and deposits books.

Answering the call of customers in a challenging environment

When I consider CBA’s customer initiatives over the last year and the efforts of Bendigo, Macquarie and ING to address customer pain points, combined with our Atlas metrics, the results don’t surprise me.

 

There is no denying that now is a critical time for sentiment among bank customers. I’ve written in the last 12 months about the impact that inflation and the rising cost of debt are having on consumers and businesses when it comes to the way they spend, save and borrow. As we move deeper into 2024, inflationary pressures are abating to a degree, but the cost of borrowing remains high and it’s still having a significant impact on sentiment.

Sentiment in Australia
Source: RFI Atlas Consumer and Business Sentiment Indices

In Australia, RFI’s Atlas Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) and Business Sentiment Index (BSI) show clearly that sentiment is low and showing no signs of improvement. In simple terms, when sentiment is below 100 points, it indicates that pessimism outweighs optimism and for more than 12 months (ever since February 2023) both the CSI and BSI have fallen below this threshold.

There’s no better time for the banks to stand up and be counted

I have always believed that there is never a more important time for banks to stand up and support their customers, than in times of stress. The big question is, what do customers want? As well as learning from our award winners, our data shows that there are many things that banks can do to support customers at this time across both consumer and business finance. 

In the words of the customers, outside of pricing, the key things are:

 

1. Provide me with the right channels to conduct my banking, at the time that I want to do it

2. Leverage digital services to take the friction out of my banking interactions

3. Provide me with products and tools that help me manage my money in the smartest way possible

4. Reward me for being a loyalty customer by giving me something back

 
Source: RFI’s Australian Savings and Deposits Council Survey – March 2024

Reinforcing this, as I wrote in March, we were seeing an increase in the propensity to switch primary transaction accounts (a key indicator of main bank status). We asked those who are thinking of switching, what was causing them to do so, and the top reason was that they felt they were not being rewarded for their loyalty. 

Winning with your customers

Across the entire set of awards, we recognise 17 brands, with many more honourable mentions that came close. While the brands are disparate, the stories are similar. Each of these brands has focussed on reducing friction for customers in channel interactions, given their customers the means to manage their finances optimally and demonstrated that they value their customers. 

 

These awards are a recognition that we’re on the right path when it comes to customer experience. After all, who can argue with 80,000 customers?!

 

Have a look at the full list of winners here and get in touch  to find out how to be a winner with your customers.

Get in touch to get further insights from the studies.

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Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter ScoreSM and Net Promoter SystemSM are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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