Britain's best and worst banks revealed

atmPA

'Customer satisfaction' and 'banks' are two things you don't often hear in the same sentence. You're far more likely to hear the word 'bank' coupled with things like 'frustration' 'anger' 'neglect' and 'hate'.

However, a study by JD Power Associates has revealed they aren't all so terrible. So which banks exceed our expectations, and which are the hateful ones?

Best banks

For those who keep up with these satisfaction scores, there's no real shock at the top: First Direct takes the title of being best for customer service. A recruitment and training policy that encourages telesales people to be informed and friendly is a winning combination. Add to that products designed with customers in mind - like an overdraft cushion and weekly texts of your balance - make customers feel valued rather than taken for granted.

Of course, that doesn't guarantee you will have the most competitive products. You won't get any interest on a current account and hardly a penny on instant access savings, but the service is impeccable.

It is followed by the Co-operative Bank (again no stranger to the top of the table) and Nationwide.

Worst service

At the other end of the spectrum we see some familiar faces too. Clydesdale Bank and Santander were both at the bottom of the table.

The survey asked about service in six areas problem resolution, account activities, fees, product offerings, account information and branch facilities. It discovered that of the 25% of customers who had a problem in one or more of these areas was seriously considering switching banks. Some 55% said their complaint wasn't handled well by the bank in question.

However, the small crumb of comfort is that the study found that we are marginally less unimpressed with the banks than we were this time last year. Perhaps it's a slow, gradual improvement. It could be the frisson of new competition in the market. Maybe we've lowered our expectations, or perhaps respondents were just too depressed to complain.

So what do you think? Is your bank any good and more importantly, is it getting better? Let us know in the comments.

The table (satisfaction rates out of 1,000)

First Direct 774
The Co-operative Bank 734
Nationwide 723
Barclays 710
NatWest 704
Lloyds TSB 698

Halifax 690
HSBC 690
Royal Bank of Scotland 687
Yorkshire Bank 685
Bank of Scotland 669
Santander 666
Clydesdale Bank 659

Note: Industry average at 698
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