SA’s best and worst banks

According to sentiment on social media this year.
Covid-19 forced many consumers to use digital channels to contact their banks for help. Some responded better than others. Image: Mike Hutchings, Reuters

While there has been a slight improvement in sentiment towards the country’s major banks on social media, nearly half of “priority conversations … which require the banks’ attention and action … have gone unanswered” in the last year.

This is according to BrandsEye, which tracked 2.5 million consumer social media posts (on Twitter and Facebook) about African Bank, Absa, Capitec, Discovery Bank, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank from September 2019 to August 2020.

This is the fifth year BrandsEye has produced its annual South African Banking Sentiment Index. It says “this year’s index pays particular attention to the market conduct performance of South African banks”.

“This focus stems from new outcomes-focused regulations that banks must now adhere to and the influx of customer service requests and complaints on social media.”

Source: BrandsEye South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020

Overall sentiment is still negative, but improved by 0.9 percentage points to -12.4%. The main reason for this, according to BrandsEye, is improvements in both FNB and Standard Bank’s scores.

African Bank achieved the highest net sentiment, and according to the study received almost four times as many sales enquiries (for loans) from customers than the average for the industry.

Read: African Bank well on its way to recovery

Capitec Bank is the incumbent bank with the highest net sentiment. It has held either first or second position since BrandsEye began producing the index. It says this “consistent performance … remains driven by the bank’s affordability”.

However, in 2020, Capitec experienced net negative sentiment for the first time. This decline was due to “unreliability of the bank’s app”.

“Customers cited issues around purchasing airtime, data and electricity through third-party companies as well as instances of system downtime. In a year where digital channels grew in significance, this shortcoming was amplified by customers who were even more reliant on the app.”

Nedbank suffered a 32.9 percentage point decline in 2020 because of the fact that its score was boosted by its partnership with Global Citizen in 2018/2019. The normalised score last year was -8.1%, if the conversation about Global Citizen was excluded. But the bank still saw a decline in sentiment to -12.5% this year.

The worst performer in the industry was Discovery Bank which has faced operational issues since its launch.

The index points to two events, the first when all accounts reflected a balance of zero, and “reports that the CVV number on Discovery’s credit card was not needed to make online purchases” as instances that undermined confidence in the bank.

Worse, “customer service was a key issue for the bank”.

“Customers reported having to reach out to multiple contacts at the bank to receive a response and waiting long periods for help. This led to the bank having the worst response rate to social media queries, suggesting it lacks the requisite capacity to serve its customers.”

Source: BrandsEye South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020

Covid-19 has forced many consumers to use digital channels to contact their banks for help during this year. BrandsEye says its analysis of banks’ social customer service during the early phases of lockdown found that conversation volumes grew by 61%, while banks’ response rates fell by 39%.

Source: BrandsEye South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020

The conversation about Covid-19 had the most significant impact on FNB. This was largely because of customer frustrations around its relief programme.

Read: SA banks ‘underwhelm’ with response to virus fallout

BrandsEye says “the quick turnaround time necessary in banks’ implementation of relief programmes was likely a root cause of confusion among staff and customers”.

Source: BrandsEye South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020

The index also tracked “threats to cancel, or churn”, and the majority “came from the customers of the incumbent banks”.

The next largest churn threat came from Discovery Bank customers who threatened to join FNB. “In an analysis of the flow of customers from traditional banks to smaller banks, FNB and Capitec appear to funnel the most customers towards digital banks. Customers leaving either Absa, Nedbank or Standard Bank were more likely to say they were going to FNB or Capitec.”

Source: BrandsEye South African Banking Sentiment Index 2020

Read: As bank earnings collapse, how bad can it get?

BrandsEye says the fact that 47.3% of priority conversations on social media go unanswered “should be alarming for the industry who are missing out on considerable volumes of important customer interactions and are therefore unlikely to have been reporting on them for regulatory purposes”.

It says they risk facing heavy fines from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) under the new Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) regulatory approach.

In June, the FSCA published the final Banking Conduct Standard which is based on six TCF outcomes. This standard “prescribes the establishment of a Complaints Management Framework that includes, among other requirements, the categorisation of complaints made by customers”.

Banks are required to report on these outcomes, and this would include their behaviour and interactions with customers on social media. The report says “TCF outcomes featured in 90.7% of customer service complaints on Twitter”.


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I bank at two different banks, one from 1972 to date and the other from 2013 to date.

I get treated like **** at both banks. I don’t understand why. I have never been a risk I just store a few ronts there, maybe that is why. do I need to be in arrears to get service.

Call centres are just a run around and normally the person you end up with is clueless.

I get calls telling me that I qualify for a special card or rewards scheme but cannot be told why i do.

In short banks suck.

Indeed they do suck …

Whatsapp have just released a payment option in India on their platform…. that is a huge game changer!

Banks will decline over time! Fintech will kill this overated industry!

I also bank at 2 – one being Discovery – and the reports are pretty accurate. I use the rewards scheme completely for my benefit and usually score handsomely, but whenever there are queries, Discovery (for one) are pretty useless and VERY slow to respond. With Discovery (all their companies) the “reference number” (that you only usually only get if you ASK for one) is your only link to your query, and it often has to be quoted on a few occasions. I wonder how they’re working abroad (excluding their bank of course), because internationally, customers appear to be more demanding of good service that we are in SA.

@pwgg: Agreed. Particularly your point about call centres. Call centres generally fall in the same genre – “mostly clueless” (the ranking for the worst is a fine line between banks and medical aids). I suspect it will not be long before call centres will be operated solely using AI resources. In fact the talking heads at most of the call centres and similar departments simply quote what the “computer says”. The rules are generally what one is told abut, and not necessarily correctly. No decent and logical conversation can be had with most of the operators and they have no decision-making authority which neutralises any potential problem-solving. As long as you’re working within the “rules”, everything is fine and efficient. If the systems are down or your situation deviates from the norm, you need good luck at resolving most issues.

Because in South Africa, it is legislated that your salary has to be paid into a bank account. The banks are complacent. They know they have business no matter what, and they just need to be a little better than the next bank.

If I could, I would get rid of all my bank accounts. I have various facilities at 4 banks but there is a certain red bank that I wont touch. They are just absolutely shocking.

Do the views expressed on social media accurately reflect the true sentiment of the majority of the population?

…you are Eric Enslin, and I claim my 5 e-bucks…

Eric , why are your fees so high?

The rich ones must be dumb paying these fees

”I am a coloured, one-eyed Jew – do I knew anything else”?

Sammy Davis Junior (In answer to the question – ”What’s your Golf Handicap”) (1925-1990) Yes I can !

Why don’t you include Investec in these – aren’t they one of South Afric’s Banks?

Ignore all the above. A bank’s level of quality of Customer Service/Relations, is directly proportional to the extent of which you’re a High Net-Worth Individual – period. If you’re just a working stiff just getting by, forget it. All you are to the bank is an account number.

I needed to get a new credit card at ABSA Northgate as my old one was cracked. Was ushered to a seat opposite Tellers 9 and 10, the Customer Service section. No-one was behind the counter, but there were 2 people ahead of me. After 20 minutes, I asked the one guy if there were tellers serving. ‘There were, but they went away.’ So I waited. And waited. Eventually, after 45 minutes of fruitless waiting, a lady behind one of the counters said in an irritated tone of voice: ‘Why are you waiting. Can’t you see there is no-one behind the counter?’ It took every ounce of my self-control not to shout: ‘I can blo##dy well see that. Have been seeing it for three-quarters of an hour.’ But I didn’t. I meekly said: ‘I need a new credit card.’ So she snatched my ID and old card away and processed the transaction. Customer service? It’s a total foreign concept to ABSA.

Agree -=- They are the pitts – like in pit toilets. Finally quit them after 40 years — best thing I ever did for my blood pressure.

I have banked with FNB and its predecessor Barclays since 1974. Over the decades, I have witnessed a steady decline in customer service. After 46 years with them, I have now become just 3 numbers – ID number, Cellphone number and Account number. I recently opened an account with Capitec – way better, cheaper and more efficient than FNB.

Agree. I opened an account with Barclays in 1992, have banked there to date.

i remember my Dad got gold cuff links from Std bank after 25 years and a diary each year.

One day my phone woke me up (I worked the previous night) and ABSA person want to know if I want to increase my credit card limit.
I politey declined, told them (again) I don’t want a larger limit, asked to be taken of the list and went back to sleep.
45 Minutes later ABSA phoned again with the same question. Rather annoyed I asked them what did I tell them 45 minutes before?
a Day or two later they phoned again.
I decided to go to the bank and speak to a consultant to settle this issue once and for ever.
I said ok, give me the higher limit.
“Sir you don’t qualify on your salary”
“I don’t get a salary I live of my investments”.
“Sir the system don’t allow for such an event”.
In a very angry and soft voice I answered.
“Sir you must come in and we have to type on the computer before we can see”.
“Sir you must be here for us to type”.
“Sorry sir”
I can’t remember her answer.
3 Months later the phone ring “Sir this is ABSA credit card, do you want to increase your limit?”

I know the ABSA staff can read and write and listen.
My question now is the following-
“Are they WILLING to read and to write and to listen?”

Remember, employment at the banks, by and large, is no longer based on merit. You get what you get.

What I noticed about banks is that they lost they traditional values of high level professionalism and respect and dealing with customers in a very polite and cordial manner – (you got to take money matters seriously),
in favour of a very laid back and causal approach – some call it africanacity – if that’s even a word.

There was a time when a banker wore a 3 piece suit offered you coffee when you stepped into his office, today you go to a bank take a number and sit on a bench.

Unless you are a “private client” – Lol

Try doing an International Money transfer to a broker bank account abroad for the first time with a bank such as Nedbank.

No one knows really what to do, and even when you have reached the correct branch for assistance, it is still a mission, time-consuming and consists of admin fees.

Never doing that again with Nedbank. Ps: Capitec does not have that service as well.

I tried with FNB.
The help desk said I would have to go to the Post Office for that!

THats funny! FNB is pretty useless!

I deal with FNB, NB & SB in Knysna.

NB is the worst by far. You get “interrogated” about the reason for your visit by the sanitizing lady at the entrance door before being granted access. Account updates were not captured after 3 weeks. It took 90 minutes overall to change an email address on my account(30 minutes queing to get in the tired old facilities, 30 minutes waiting to get to the till and 30 minutes to capture updates and change email address). Total disrespect for their customers. Their web page is cluttered and difficult to navigate.

Dear old Nedbank. You really need an urgent makeover of your convoluted website, and corporate ‘colours’.Upside:your staff are polite

Most of the money created today in the world is created out of thin air by Private banks.
Private bank by law are allowed to create money out of thin air by giving new loans and extending overdrafts by
changing numbers on a computer screen. Money is an idea created by law backed by the faith people have in the government of that currency.
The financial system is law. Only 3% of money in the world today is actual physical money.

Myth 1: Private Banks are just middlemen.
Fact: Private Bank create the vast majority of new money in the economy.

Myth 2: Banks takes deposits
Fact: Bank don’t take deposits, bank lend money and you become a general creditor and the bank can use the money it lend from you anyway the law allows it to.

Myth3: If a bank lends out R200,000.00 for example it has R20,0000.00 deposit in the bank.
Fact: Professor Werner an Economist Professor did research in Germany and Proved that most of the money the banks in Germany lend out in reality had not corresponding deposit.
The banks in reality actually don’t lend money, the banks business is buying securities. If the bank lends you money to buy a house or car they own the loan agreement(security)
you signed.They will sue if you don’t pay them. The law says you have to pay them to what the contract you signed says.

Document from the Bank of England how money is created in the modern economy.

End of comments.




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