MSE News

First Direct reclaims top spot in our customer service poll – see how your bank did

First Direct has reclaimed the crown in our twice-yearly banking customer service poll – though its overall 'great' rating has actually reduced over the past six months.

More than 3,500 current account customers responded to our latest survey, with 85% of First Direct customers considering its customer service 'great'. Its victory this time around means it has only missed out on top spot once since we started our customer service poll back in 2010.

Despite scoring a lower rating compared to our March poll – 90% rated it 'great' then – the long-standing service champion retook the crown from the previous winner Monzo, as the app-only bank received too few votes this time around to rank using our methodology.

Had Monzo received the required 100 votes, it's likely it would have given First Direct a serious run for its money, as 91% of its 86 customers who voted rated it 'great.'

Metro Bank – which jointly topped the Competition and Markets Authority's banking league table earlier this month along with First Direct – had the highest percentage of 'great' votes overall, with 94% of the 87 customers who voted feeling this way. However like Monzo and others, including Starling, Co-op Bank, Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, it's excluded from our ranking table as it didn't get enough votes.

In our official table, Nationwide took second place – up from fourth six months ago – with Santander and Lloyds in third and fourth.

At the bottom, NatWest claimed the wooden spoon, with 22% of its customers rating its service 'poor' and just 42% 'great'. TSB, March's wooden spoon winner, seems to have started putting its long-running IT issues behind it, with its 'poor' rating improving from 33% to 21% and its 'great' from 35% to 46%, though it remains firmly near the bottom of the table.

If you're unhappy with your bank's service, you can switch. See our Best Bank Accounts guide for full information, including how to get up to £175 for switching.

The results in full

We survey users twice a year to see how they rate their main bank's customer service. We've collated the results of all the banks that got 100 votes or more (to see the full results, check our August poll).

We've linked directly to banks that offer a switching bonus or are one of our best buys for other perks.

MSE banking customer service poll August 2019

Rank + provider Key perks on main account (i) 'Great' 'Poor'
1. First Direct* £50 to switch if you pay in £1k in 3mths + 0% overdraft + 5% regular saver 85% 6%
2. Nationwide* 5% interest on up to £2.5k for 1yr if you pay in £1k/mth + £100 to switch if referred by a friend 70% 9%
3. Santander* 1-3% cashback on bills paid by direct debit (£1/mth fee) if you pay in £500+/mth & log in every 3mths 63% 9%
4. Lloyds - 56% 13%
5. HSBC £175 (via link) for switching + access to 5% reg saver 54% 17%
6. Halifax - 50% 16%
7. Barclays £120 cashback over 1yr with Blue Rewards (£14/mth - £4/mth fee) if you pay in £800/mth & register for online banking 52% 19%
8. TSB* 3% interest on up to £1.5k if you pay in £500/mth 46% 21%
9. NatWest 2% cashback on bills paid by direct debit (£2/mth fee) if you pay in £1.5k/mth & register for online banking 42% 22%
Note: There were 3,761 votes. Rankings based on two points for each 'great' %, one for each 'OK' % and zero for 'poor'. When scores are tied, the bank with the better 'great' rating goes ahead. We've excluded banks with fewer than 100 votes. (i) For any of these switching bonuses, you must use the bank's official switch service and usually shift at least two direct debits. For ongoing perks, you'll usually need to have at least two direct debits active. When opening an account, you'll face a not-too-harsh credit check.

For the full results of our previous poll in March, see our Monzo pips First Direct MSE News story.

'First Direct can't rest on its laurels'

Helen Saxon, banking editor at MoneySavingExpert, said: "First Direct can't rest on its laurels if it wants to keep its reputation for unparalleled customer service. While it has claimed top spot this time around, its service rating has dropped, and had Metro Bank or Monzo received just a handful more votes we'd be reporting a different story.

"Yet 85% of customers rating you 'great' for service is something most banks can only dream of, and in that light, First Direct is still a worthy winner with its top service and its additional perks, including £50 of free cash, a 0% overdraft of up to £250 and a linked 5% regular savings account, make it a decent shout for anyone thinking of switching."

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