Banks the unexpected NPS ‘winners’ of Covid-19?

25/08/2020 By Georgina Woodley

Australian consumers love to have a go at the big four banks for being profit motivated.  “They are in it for themselves not for their customers’” is a common topic at BBQs.  And with the recent Royal Commission and AUSTRAC, banks have weathered their fair share of market turbulence in recent times.

But from an NPS point of view, largely these have not dramatically impacted the overall NPS.  Ironically, it seems a global pandemic may well have been an unexpected saviour (for NPS at least!) in retail banking, with three of the big four banks and a number of Tier Two brands seeing substantial uplifts in NPS.

Overall NPS over time

Overall NPS over time

NPS change by brand (March - June 2020)

All banks NPS change

Around half of banking customers had a recent interaction with their bank that they claimed was driven by events caused by Covid-19. And those who had a Covid-19 related interaction were far more positively disposed towards the bank than those that didn’t.

Overall NPS by whether the customer had a Covid interaction

NPS by covid interaction

And it’s not entirely surprising.  These are the moments of truth, the peak moments of an experience, where feeling valued and listened to really matters.  NPS is by its very construct designed to capture the impact of peak moments.  The 9s and 10s are what make a difference –  an average experience (7-8) doesn’t count.  For Covid-19, most of this played out at the front line,  and that’s where we have seen the vast majority of change, in the human touchpoints, the human side of banking.

Change in touchpoint NPS

NPS by touchpoint

So this is where banks with a digital only strategy (and customers with less debt!) didn’t do as favourably.  ING has held a substantial NPS advantage over the big 4 for some time both at the brand level and also in its service experiences.  But with its customer base less likely to have a mortgage or credit card with them, there was less of a need for direct assistance.  ING was one of the few banks that remained stable at the touchpoint level for the human interactions as well as the brand level.

This really highlights the benefits of benchmarking.  Because if you were only looking only at your internal programme and saw your results moving forward, you’d probably think you’d done a pretty good job.  If you saw your results staying flat or even going backwards, you’d probably also think you’d navigated a fairly turbulent time in Australian banking pretty well.  But when you overlay what competitors are doing it changes the picture dramatically and really highlights that if you’re not moving forward you’re going backwards.

We’re looking forward to seeing the September quarter’s results and whether the goodwill continues and the positive sentiment towards service experiences remains high, or drops off as we all adjust to a new world of ‘normal’ in Australian banking.  My prediction is that it will remain for some time, because when you value customers and stand by them when it really counts, they remember it for years to come.

BVA BDRC’s NPS benchmarking programme measures service experiences across channels and product journeys for 15 banks quarterly.  It drills down into specific issues within each touchpoint to diagnose  key break points in service delivery across both operational factors and the emotive side of human experiences.  It overlays what’s important against competitive strengths and weaknesses to identify priorities for improvement across the business.  It’s a comprehensive resource for marketing, insights, customer experience and product teams in Australian banking and offers a rich source of material: quarterly reports and presentations; access to online reporting with drill down capability; a library of verbatim feedback across banks; access to a library of video feedback; bespoke scenario modelling to assess the impact of initiatives and bespoke analysis and presentations.