Majors' mortgage customers drag down satisfaction levels

New research has found that the mortgage customers of each of the big four banks continue to be a drag on their overall satisfaction, despite historically-low home loan rates.

Roy Morgan Research has found that over the last 12 months, satisfaction among the big four’s home loan customers has fallen further behind their other customers with a decline by 2.8 per cent points to 75.4 per cent, compared to a drop of only 0.4 per cent points for non-home loan customers (to 80.5 per cent).

CBA has the highest home loan customer satisfaction of the big four with 78.0 per cent and Westpac the lowest (72.6 per cent).

The research shows that non-major banks are outperforming the big four when it comes to satisfaction of mortgage customers.

ING Direct has the highest home loan customer satisfaction (of the top 10) with 94.8 per cent, followed closely by 94.5 per cent for Bendigo Bank. These two remain well clear of the field, with the next best being St.George (83.6 per cent) and Bankwest (83.3 per cent).

“Although customers generally view their bank positively, we have identified two of the issues that need to be handled with greater sensitivity if satisfaction is to improve: how interest rates and channel changes are made and explained to customers,” Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris said.

“Despite very low loan and deposit rates that favour borrowers, overall bank customer satisfaction is currently being adversely affected by the fact that only 75.4 per cent of the big four banks’ home loan customers are satisfied. What’s more, the satisfaction gap between them and other customers (80.5 per cent) is widening,” Mr Morris said.

“With banks recently announcing ‘out of cycle’ increases in loan rates, borrower satisfaction is expected to decline even further.”

Customers ditch branches for mobile banking

The rise of mobile technology has been a key driver in customer satisfaction over the last year.

According to Roy Morgan Research, banking using an app on a mobile phone or tablet is now more popular than using branches, with 38.8 per cent of Australians using it in an average four-week period, compared with only 28.2 per cent for branches.

Satisfaction is clearly a major driver of this trend with 90.7 per cent satisfaction with mobile banking among the big four, compared to 84.8 per cent satisfaction with branches.

Roy Morgan’s Mr Morris said that the high satisfaction levels and rapid increase in the use of mobile banking are likely to improve overall satisfaction.

“While this is a positive trend, the declining satisfaction of the big fours’ branch banking customers is not so rosy. Over one in four bank customers still use branches in an average four-week period: and their satisfaction is also important,” he explained.

“The end result is that satisfaction with branches is now further behind that of mobile banking. Banks need to pay attention on issues such as branch closures and changes to functionality so that they are better aligned with customer needs and expectations.”

[Related: ME launches new internet banking platform]

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