My current account provider pays me no credit interest, offers a fairly average interest rate on its credit card and has no branches of its own. And yet, I’m not switching. Why?…
Times are hard for almost everyone at the moment. I pay my salary into my bank account every month and pay my rent almost four weeks later – just before payday, in fact.
I could be earning up to 5% interest in the first year by switching to Santander. Alternatively I could bank with Lloyds TSB and enjoy 2% on my current account balance. But I don’t – and it’s all down to customer service.
Customer service beats interest rates
It’ll probably come as no surprise that I bank with Which? Recommended Provider First Direct. The bank can get away with paying no interest on its current account because its customer service is so good. I wouldn’t want to risk switching to a bank that I know has given poor customer service to many of its customers, even if it does pay significantly more interest on its current account.
Take as an example my experiences last weekend. I lost my debit card on Sunday and rang First Direct to report it.
A real person answered the phone within one ring (no pesky automated menus), dealt with my problem, arranged for a new card to be sent out (it arrived on Wednesday morning) and offered to arrange for cash to be sent to my local HSBC branch if I needed it in the meantime. I couldn’t have asked for a more efficient and friendly service.
Others need to do more to compete
If Santander or Lloyds TSB manage to improve their customer satisfaction scores to match those achieved by First Direct or Smile and maintain the interest rate they pay on current accounts, I’d switch in a shot. It might even prompt First Direct to up the rates it pays.
The Co-operative Bank is certainly running a close second at the moment – a clear ethical stance, £200 to switch and a Which? score not far behind that of First Direct all make it tempting. For now though, the first-class service I received this weekend from First Direct justifies my decision not to switch.